Five SES volunteers have been injured during an operation on the Tweed River this morning.

“Shortly after 1.20am on Sunday morning (24.05.2009), three SES Flood Rescue Boats (FRB) with 10 volunteers as crew (3+3+4) were conducting reconnaissance on the Tweed River due to the threat posed by the abnormally high tide which had the potential to flood the Chinderah community,” the SES said.

“One of the FRBs suffered what is believed to be a mechanical failure, resulting in a second vessel going to its aid. While assisting, it is believed the propeller fouled, causing this FRB to lose propulsion.

“The two vessels drifted downstream in the strong currents generated by the ebbing tide towards the mouth of the Tweed River. 
“The third FRB went to their assistance, however, because of the adverse conditions and in the interest of crew safety, this vessel left to make its own way safely to shore.

“The volunteers involved in the incident are from the North Sydney-based Ku-Ring-Gai and Ryde SES units and the Tweed Heads Unit.

“As a result of the very rough water conditions encountered at the mouth of the Tweed River, five of the volunteers have sustained minor injuries and were transported by NSW Ambulance to the Tweed Hospital (broken ribs and spleen injury, head lacerations, bruised back and exposure), once they had managed to get their vessels back to shore. The vessels did not capsize and crew members did not have to swim to shore.

“As a matter of routine operational procedure, the incident will be the subject of a thorough investigation undertaken by SES.

“Some of the basic tasks undertaken by volunteers in flood events are reconnaissance and rescue.

“However, it has been confirmed that all members were wearing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Personal Floatation Devices (Life Jackets). All FRBs were recovered to shore at the time of the incident.”