Minister strips Ballina jet boat of rescue accreditation
THE Ballina Jet Boat has been stripped of its Primary Rescue accreditation as an aquatic rescue vessel by the Minister for Police and Emergency Services Michael Gallacher.
Ballina Jet Boat president Gary Murphy said the organisation received a letter last week advising of the situation that could potentially see the jet boat not called to rescues under a new one service model for aquatic rescues in NSW.
Mr Murphy said under the new model, Marine Rescue NSW was the primary responder and Marine Area Command must contact Surf Life Saving NSW to task the jet boat to a rescue.
"We are concerned that it may take a period of time for us to be activated because others are called first," he said.
This is the second time over the past 12 months the Jet Boat has run into issues with accreditation and issues over administrative differences between Surf Life Saving and Marine Rescue NSW.
Last year, after the Jet Boat saved the crew of Ballina's Marine Rescue Boat when it flipped during a rescue on the Ballina Bar, the Northern Star revealed police had been instructed to not call the service in the event of an emergency.
The latest revocation of accreditation follows an audit by the State Rescue Board of the Ballina Jet Boat in February 2013.
The audit found: "The unit was unable to produce adequate training records to evidence compliance with State Rescue Board standards, and a lack of compliance with notification procedures."
Mr Murphy said the training records were kept by Surf Life Saving and the qualifications were different to Marine Rescue NSW and State Rescue Board current requirements
"We satisfy all of Surf Life Savings training and competency requirements."
Mr Murphy said the organisation felt insulted by this outcome as it was caught up in a process that could have been handled differently.
He said the jet boat was often the only readily available purpose-built rescue vessel capable of crossing and performing rescues on the treacherous Ballina bar.
"We want the official record to be corrected, and the unit to be called out, when we are the most appropriate unit to respond in a timely manner," he said.
"It's a slight on our proud 40-year record of saving people."