THANK YOU: Stacey Tannos, Volunteer Marine Rescue NSW Commissioner, with Marine Rescue volunteer Bernie Wills.
THANK YOU: Stacey Tannos, Volunteer Marine Rescue NSW Commissioner, with Marine Rescue volunteer Bernie Wills. Mireille Merlet-Shaw Marc Stapelberg

Cops wouldn’t call heroes

IF IT had been up to NSW police they wouldn't have called the crew who became the heroes of Monday morning's dramatic rescue of five people in treacherous conditions off Ballina.

Luckily Ballina Marine Rescue advised the Ballina Jet Boat's parent organisation, Surf Life Saving NSW, of the incident, bypassing police and avoiding red tape.

A letter from the NSW Police Marine Area Command to the Australian Volunteer Coastguard, obtained by the Northern Star, says the Marine Area Command and police would not send the Coastguard to emergencies.

Two of the boat crew members rescued by the Ballina Jet Boat from Ballina's capsized Marine Rescue vessel on Monday, April 15, 2013.
Two of the boat crew members rescued by the Ballina Jet Boat from Ballina's capsized Marine Rescue vessel on Monday, April 15, 2013. Courtesy Ballina Jet Boat

The Ballina Jet Boat and two other organisations received the same letter. Ironically, the skipper of the Jet Boat, Mark Puglisi, is a serving police officer in the Richmond Local Area Command who has been previously decorated for bravery.

The letter, signed by Acting Superintendent James Stewart of the Marine Area Command was sent because training records for members were not all up to date. There was no suggestion the training was not up to date, just the records.

Coastguard Kingscliff commander-elect John Purnell said the organisations to receive the letter also happened to be the only volunteer emergency groups still declining to join Marine Rescue, which began taking over coastguards in 2010, despite the state rescue board confirming those organisations were accredited to conduct rescues.

Mr Purnell said he had sent the required records to the Marine Area Command on February 28.

"It's ludicrous; it's bloody ridiculous and could put lives at risk," he said.

"Since we are all accredited units with the state rescue board why not use us as required to help save lives like we are trained to do."

Marine Rescue Commissioner Stacey Tannos visited the Ballina crew involved in Monday morning's rescue yesterday.

"The crew are a bit knocked around and have some bruises, but all things considered they are doing well," he said.

The Ballina Marine Rescue boat and the Wanita that capsized during the rescue had washed up on South Ballina beach.

Salvage experts were assessing both vessels.

The Marine Area Command did not return our phone calls yesterday.



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