PORT STEPHENS and Hunter emergency service members who are "used to competing face to face" had to adapt their training for the first 'virtual' World Rescue Challenge.
Going by the name Hunter Valley Rescue, the team representing Australia was made up of four NSW SES members from Port Stephens and two NSW Ambulance paramedics from the Hunter who competed against 20 other teams from around the world.
Hosted annually by World Rescue Organisation, the event sees teams presented with scenarios which require them to "rescue and treat causalities". This year, with the aid of drones and virtual reality, the event was held remotely for the first time due to COVID-19.
"The first event was the XVR virtual reality challenge which was almost like a video game. We had control using a mouse and keyboard so we could go through our normal protocol when arriving at a scene," Deputy Unit Commander at Port Stephens Alysha Springett said.
"The second event on Saturday had a room set up in Luxembourg where there was one person injured on the ground, one bystander and two medics. We had to talk the medics and the bystanders through the process of assessment and triage using our voice at the same time directing the drones for our vision."
The team received Gold for the XVR Incident Command Challenge, and Silver for the Human Drones Trauma Challenge.
Alysha Springett said the process was "definitely different" but was "helped with building skills".
"You realise larger tasks are formed of fifty smaller tasks. It forces you to break down and almost interrogate years of muscle memory."
NSW SES Commissioner Carlene York said the "Port Stephens Unit have excellent rescue capabilities".
"To see them perform on the world stage is an amazing testament to their professionalism," she said.
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