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Issue No. 381 June 2014

Diver's international award

Police diver Constable Geoff Bray has received an international award for training responders in what to do when rescue becomes recovery – and how to do it compassionately.

Geoff helped create the first Swiftwater Recovery Specialist (SRS) training course, which has been adopted in New Zealand, America and Canada, with European and Australian jurisdictions set to follow.

He worked with Steve Glassey, of Canterbury University’s Centre for Risk, Resilience and Renewal and New Zealand ambassador for the Rescue 3 International network.

Geoff Bray, left, and Steve Glassey in action during a swift-water training exercise.

They are the first people from New Zealand to receive Higgins and Langley Memorial Awards in Swiftwater Rescue. They travelled to New Jersey this month for the presentation.

Geoff, of Counties Manukau District, says the course meets a need identified by Senior Sergeant Bruce Adams, National Dive Squad commander, who introduced him to Steve. The work was supported by National Operations Manager Superintendent Barry Taylor.

Training responders such as rural firefighters or SAR volunteers to recover bodies from fast-moving but relatively shallow water reduces distressing delays and minimises the danger of an untrained person entering the water.

The course balances academic and practical elements including recovery techniques, scientific principles, presentation of evidence and appropriate behaviour around grieving relatives.

Geoff says the award recognises the course’s victim focus, centred on the need to return people to their families swiftly and with empathy, and the way it gives local responders shared ownership of incidents in their community.

“It’s about getting people out in the safest, most effective and most compassionate way,” he says.

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