Emergency Services & Disaster

RFS cadets recognised at high school ceremony

Condobolin High School RFS cadets with their mentors. DG

By Dominic Geiger

Nine Condobolin High School students have been recognised for their completion of a Rural Fire Service (RFS) cadetship training course at a special ceremony held at the high school last Monday.

During the ceremony, the cadets demonstrated their recently acquired skills in a mock car accident and grass fire training exercise.

Learning Development Officer with the RFS, Warwick Parker, said the most important thing the cadets had learned throughout their training was teamwork.

“They found the teamwork side of things a bit difficult when they first started, though once they got the hang of that. they’ve been doing great,” he said.

“They’ve also been learning skills using the hoses, how to fight fires, truck skills and some basic first aid.

“It’s a good thing for the school and a great way to promote the RFS to the community and that’s how the cadets program is supposed to work.”

RFS Cadet, Mitchell Deeves, said he was surprised how much he’d learnt over the course of the training program.

“It was great, we learnt so much,” he said.

“The other thing is, that none of us were friends before we started the program but we get along really well with each other now.”

The Mayor of the Lachlan Shire, Des Manwaring, presented the cadets with their certificates.

“This is a great program, it’s volunteering at its best,” Des said.

“The RFS is having trouble getting volunteers, so I hope these young people will continue to be a part of and support this fantastic organisation.”

Willow Bend at risk of flood devastation

CEO of the Condobolin Aboriginal Land Council, Rebecca Shepherd, surveys Willow Bend's broken flood gates and substandard levee while a concerned village resident looks on.

By Dominic Geiger

Revelations Willow Bend Village’s levee bank is at least one metre too low to protect the community in the event of a serious flood have emerged following last Wednesday’s council meeting.

It has also been revealed one of the community’s flood gates has fallen into the river while the other one is in a state of serious disrepair.

Despite having recently passed a motion to participate in the Aboriginal Communities Water and Sewerage Program for Willow Bend Village, administered by the NSW Office of Water, Lachlan Shire Council (LSC) is not responsible for the water services provided at Willow Bend.

“[These issues] are the Willow Bend Aboriginal community’s responsibility, as it is privately owned, [however] the shire has been trying to aid the community as much as possible in their attempt to acquire funding for the project,” Director for Technical Services at LSC Kevin Smith said.

CEO for the Condobolin Local Aboriginal Land Council (CLALC), Rebecca Shepherd, said the estimated cost of raising the kilometre long levee and replacing the flood gates was somewhere in the region of $800,000.

“The CLALC is confident the NSW Office of Water will contribute towards some of the funding, however we are unsure where the remainder will come from at this stage,” she said.

“During last year’s floods we were forced to sandbag the area to protect everyone who lives in the village.

“Since then, the NSW SES has conducted priority rankings of the most flood prone Aboriginal communities in NSW, with Willow Bend coming in at number two.”

Rebecca said in the event of a significant flood the community would be forced to evacuate.

“We have lots of elderly people and little children living here, so it would be difficult in an emergency,” she said.

“Because the shire is integrated into the whole process, they have been really supportive.

“Hopefully someone might help to sponsor those repairs which won’t be funded by the NSW Office of Water.

“It could be an opportunity for any major companies looking at setting up in Condobolin and working with the local community.”

Condobolin resident recognised for cyclone recovery effort

Condobolin Mayor Des Manwaring presents Allan Pawsey with his certificate.Condobolin resident Allan Pawsey has recently been awarded with a certificate of appreciation for his time spent volunteering with the NSW SES in parts of cyclone ravaged North Queensland earlier this year.

Lachlan Shire Mayor, Des Manwaring, presented Allan with the certificate at last Wednesday’s council meeting.

Allan spent five days in the towns of Innisfail and Cardwell helping remove debris and repairing houses in the wake of the category five cyclone Yasi.

Allan said he found the experience incredibly rewarding.

“We really take things for granted until we see people in that sort of situation and you realise how important it is to help out where you can,” he said.

“We were involved in the fourth team that went up there; we flew from Sydney to Cairns and then drove to Innisfail and Cardwell.

“We were mostly doing tree removal, doing repairs to houses and just generally helping people get back on track.”

Recognition of Condobolin SES volunteers and police

L-R: Heather Cannon, Judy Price and Anne Bowditch have been recognised for their time spent volunteering with the SES. Sergeant Peter Gibson and Senior Constable Anthony (Docky) Rogers were awarded police medals for 20 years of service. Contributed.By Dominic Geiger

Three Condobolin SES volunteers and two Condobolin police were recently honoured at a special ceremony at the Bushman’s Motor Inn in Parkes.

Sergeant Peter Gibson and Senior Constable Anthony Rogers were each awarded 20 year police service medals.

Anne Bowditch, Heather Cannon and Judy Price were recognised for their time spent volunteering for the SES, with Anne celebrating 10 years membership, Heather with 15 years and Judy with 20 years.

Judy said there were a number of events that stood out in her mind over the two decades she’d been volunteering with the SES.

“There was the train that spilled cyanide on the Condobolin-Tullamore Road; that was a big thing for us,” she said.

“It meant I spent 10 days cooking for the fire brigades and everyone else in the cordoned off area.

“It was three meals a day as well as morning and afternoon tea.

“Then there was the train that hit a mob of cattle and derailed near Kiacatoo … I was cooking there as well.

“We also had the recent Ungarie floods; this time I was wading knee deep in the water and someone else was cooking.”

Judy said the biggest reward from volunteering was knowing she’d helped the community in times of trouble.

“The comradeship is also incredible,” she said.

“Even though you’re in a dangerous situation, you still have a joke with everyone to relieve the tension.”

Despite this, Judy said numbers of SES volunteers were dwindling.

“Not having enough volunteers is the biggest killer [to the SES] at this stage,” she said.

“It’s helping the community as well as yourself with on the job training that can be used in all sorts of professions.

“I would really love to see anyone with an interest in the SES sign up.”

Funding for flood damage in LSC

Lachlan Shire Council has received a total of $4.97 million as a result of the RTA’s flood levy.

The money will be spent mostly on the worst affected roads of the Lachlan Shire, including those near Fifield, Tottenham and Lake Cargelligo.

Director of Technical Services, Kevin Smith, said Lachlan Shire Council had been incredibly successful in applying for the flood damage grant when compared to other NSW shires.

“We applied for funding as a result of two events; the floods in December in 2010 and a storm in March 2011,” he said.

“In total we applied for $6.1 million and received approximately 80%.

“Most other councils only received around 60% of the amount they applied for.”

Kevin said the RTA ultimately had the power to decide which roads were most damaged.

“When the storms and floods occurred, [shire] staff were notified to damaged roads by residents,” he said.

“Most of the damage occurred around Tottenham and Lake Cargelligo, though Condobolin also experienced some damage.

“We are now waiting to receive the details on which roads have been approved for the grant.”

Grandmother appeals after child driven 130kms for medical aid

Wendy Norris’ granddaughter was driven from Burcher to Temora for medical attention.By Dominic Geiger

An extremely dehydrated eight month old child was driven over 130kms to Temora hospital last Sunday night following the poor handling of a phone call to the Condobolin Hospital.
The child’s grandmother, Wendy Norris, said she had been treating baby Alice for vomiting and diarrhoea over the weekend.
“As a grandmother, I managed her, doing things people usually do for sick kids because we knew there were no doctors [in Condobolin] we could see on the week end,” she said.
“Late Sunday night, Alice’s father Adrian took her home to Burcher but at 10:30pm he called me and said Alice was still vomiting and not eating or drinking.”
Wendy then gave her son directions to call Condobolin Hospital where he received advice on how to manage Alice’s condition.
Despite this, Wendy said “at no stage did [the hospital staff] say to bring Alice in.”
“Adrian then rang West Wyalong hospital on his own accord and was told there was no doctor available there or on call,” she said.
“At 1:15am Alice was still vomiting and loosing fluid so Adrian called Temora hospital and was told that, if he was so concerned for Alice’s health, to bring her over.”
Alice has since made a full recovery after seeing the on call doctor in Temora and being placed on antibiotics.
Wendy said she thought it was appalling her son wasn’t encouraged to take Alice to Condobolin Hospital as a precaution.
“Condobolin may have doctors in place though is the hospital actually open or do we get turned away after 10pm?” she said.
“We have a wonderful hospital, but is it operating at its full capabilities or are the doors closed and we can’t access the hospital system?”
A spokesperson for Western NSW Local Health District said the organisation was unable to comment on the specifics of Alice’s case, however the spokesperson confirmed “a local doctor is on duty or on call for emergencies at the Condobolin Health Service at all times.”
“Patients who require treatment after hours are advised to present to the Hospital’s Emergency Department for a full assessment, triage, and treatment,” the spokesperson said.
“The Western NSW Local Health District takes all complaints very seriously; we would be happy to meet with the family to discuss any concerns they have regarding the Condobolin Health Service.”
The spokesperson also said If a person is seeking medical advice over the phone, they are advised to call the Health Direct Australia line on 1800 022 222, which provides expert health advice 24-hours a day to NSW residents.

Inferno ravages Hay Street house

Firefighters from both Fire and Rescue NSW and the Rural Fire Service fought to stop the blaze spreading to neighbouring houses.

By Dominic Geiger

A raging fire has   gutted a house in Hay Street, Condobolin.
Fire crews, police and an ambulance were called to the scene last Wednesday afternoon following a phone call to 000.
The fire, which began at 1:35pm, started in the laundry of the house and quickly spread throughout the property.
A spokesperson for Condobolin Police Station said fortunately no one had been injured in the blaze.
“A person was in a shed out the back and went to go back into the house (when) they saw flames and smoke coming from the laundry area,” the spokesperson said.
“The person alerted the occupant inside the house and they all got out unharmed.
“At this stage the cause of the fire is not known.
“The fire is not being treated as suspicious.”
A spokesperson from Fire and Rescue NSW said fire crews were on the scene within nine minutes from when the fire was first reported, though by that stage the house was well alight.
“There were two crews from Fire and Rescue NSW and two crews from the Rural Fire Service in attendance,” the spokesperson said.
“There were fears the fire would spread to adjoining properties but by 2:30pm the fire had been contained.
“The building was an old weatherboard house and was severely damaged in the blaze.”
The occupants of the building lost nearly all their belongings.
Fire and Rescue NSW, the Rural Fire Service and the NSW Police Service wish to remind people to regularly check batteries and the fitting of smoke alarms in their house.

New RFS station tanker for Ootha

The Ootha Rural Fire Brigade celebrate the opening of their new Rural Fire Station.

Compiled by Dominic Geiger

The Ootha Rural Fire Service recently conducted a ceremony to announce the opening of a brand new Rural Fire Brigade station and the acquisition of a new category one tanker.
The new two-bay station replaces the former one-bay station the brigade had been using in the town.
Team Manager at the Forbes Office Mid Lachlan Valley Team, Ken Neville, said the upgrade meant the Ootha Brigade now had state of the art equipment held in a station that would preserve the machinery well in to the future.
“The tanker is able to respond to any type of incident, including motor vehicle, grass, bush and structural fires,” he said.
Ken said although Ootha is located on the north west edge of the Forbes Shire, the brigade is active with responses to emergencies in their local area.
“The Ootha brigade is able to respond to emergencies in both the Lachlan and Forbes areas and both brigades have worked together in the past.”
Funding for the station was obtained through the Rural Fire Fighting Fund with local companies and trades people undertaking the majority of the construction.

Photos emerge of 19 year old rail disaster

Condobolin's 1992 train derailment. Contributed by Bryson Deeves.

By Dominic Geiger

Long time resident of the Lachlan Shire, Bryson Deeves, has for the first time released images of the 1992 train derailment that spilled 40 tonnes of cyanide near the airport on the Condobolin-Tullamore Road.
The accident, which involved a semi trailer colliding with a freight train, left the two passengers of the truck dead and remains one of the most significant road incidents in NSW history.
Bryson said he had been going through old photos when he happened to stumble across the images of the disaster.
“I’d heard about the accident on the morning it happened so I went out and took (the pictures) before anyone was allowed out there,” he said.
Keith Willis, retired captain of the NSW Fire Brigade Condobolin Branch, said the accident was one of the most memorable events of his career.
“The train spilled half its load of 80 tonnes of cyanide and that took ten days to clean,” he said.
“We had help from the hazardous materials section of the NSW Fire Brigade as well as from the surrounding towns in the western area.”
“All emergency services from Condobolin were also involved and due to their high level of professionalism we achieved a good outcome during the operation.”
Keith said he had really noticed how his training helped him to deal with the problem on the day.
“We recognised (the substance) was cyanide so we shut the entire operation down including the road, the airport and anything else likely to be affected until the helicopter could come from Sydney,” he said.
“The town was very worried about the threat the cyanide posed but luckily there was a wind keeping it away.
“As a (former colleague) said, you don’t get to smell cyanide because if you smell it you’re dead.
“Our training really kicked in that day and as a result no one from the brigade or (any members of the public) were injured.

Condobolin's 1992 train derailment. Contributed by Bryson Deeves.

The Condobolin Argus – 10 years old

With The Condobolin Argus’ 10th birthday nearly upon us, first week of May, it seemed appropriate for a trip down memory lane to revisit some of the issues and events that have been critical in making The Argus the influential and relevant community newspaper it is today.
With so many editions archived in the depths of the Argus library, the task of revisiting important stories and campaigns seemed daunting at first, though with much perseverance, the team at The Argus has managed to compile a fairly concise list of ten achievements it feels have been most relevant to the Lachlan Shire community.
They are (in no particular order):
Joining the battle to keep the Condobolin Agricultural Research Station up and running.
In March 2009, The Argus reported on the NSW Labor Government’s decision to close the Condobolin Agricultural Research Station (CARAS). A surge of public protest culminating in a rally in Condobolin’s main street reversed that decision.
Helping prevent the closure of Target Country in Condobolin.
In January 2003, The Argus confirmed Condobolin Target Country would remain open despite pressure to close the store. The Argus supported the store during the resulting six month trial period through a ‘shop local’ campaign.
Helping to promote the Condobolin skate park project.
The Argus has been supporting the Condobolin skate park project for a number of years. The project is finally becoming a reality with the final draft becoming available for public comment following Lachlan Shire Council Meeting on 20th April.
Supporting the RTA’s ‘Three Shires’ initiative to help reduce the region’s road toll.
This project aims to increase road safety throughout the Lachlan, Forbes and Parkes shires. Part of this project has been the wheelie bin initiative, encouraging children to decorate wheelie bins in an effort to highlight road safety. The Argus played a large role in encouraging people to take part in this project, and now also has a very happy looking bin.
Providing full yet sensitive coverage of breaking news including human tragedies.
For example on the 2nd of December 2005, a ten-seater Piper Chieftain light plane crashed on Neil Baxter’s property ‘Craig End’. Unfortunately, the incident resulted in the loss of several lives and resulted in an Australian Transport Safety Bureau inquiry. The Argus printed continuous coverage of the incident from the crash to release of the inquiry.
Coverage of natural disasters.
The Argus has been instrumental in keeping the community aware of various fires and floods which have affected the region over the past ten years. With the real time news delivery available with the internet, The Argus can now deliver information to readers as soon as natural disasters unfold. This was most recently demonstrated during the floods in Ungarie last month.
Promotion of local tourism initiatives, particularly ‘Utes in the Paddock’.
Owing to the Argus’ commitment to improving tourism in the Lachlan Shire (and perhaps due to the fact our editor is one of the artists) Utes in the Paddock has become a ‘must see’ on any visitor’s to do list. Beginning in 2007, The Utes in the Paddock Project now includes 15 ute artworks and has been nominated for a NSW Heritage and Cultural Tourism Award and People’s Choice Tourist Experience Award.
Coverage of Aboriginal issues and events in the Lachlan Shire.
The Argus has strived to help ‘close the gap’ on Indigenous inequality though a focus on providing fair and unbiased reporting on events and issues important to the Wiradjuri community. The Argus has frequently reported positively on Aboriginal tourism, educational and employment initiatives.
Promotion of major events such as the Condo 750, Tattoo,  Condo B & S and our Australian Idol Shannon Noll.
The Argus has thrown its support behind various community oriented events over its ten year history. This promotion has been in the form of editorials, advertorials and extensive advertising features before, during and after events.
Support of local Charity Organisations
When major charity events and fundraisers happen in the Lachlan Shire, The Argus is always in the thick of the action, lending its promotional power to the event. Various charities and charitable organisations.

Support for Community much more than just words in a newspaper.
Born out of a large gathering of members from right across the community forming the view more could be done to promote our region, The Condobolin Argus actively pursues promotional opportunities in may different ways.
The paper looks to attract staff with high level skills and talents that offer its community additional benefits. One staff member worked tirelessly on submissions and promotion for the Professional Bull Riders event. That event attracting large crowds enhancing business for the local community. Yet another staff member successfully competed the local Show Girl promotion being awarded State Runner Up at the Royal Easter Show, thereby doing a magnificent job of promoting our region.
Focus for The Condobolin Argus is very firmly on assisting local community to promote itself, diligently managing advertisers funds to employ high level skills providing a holistic service. One portfolio sponsored by The Condobolin Argus in this way is that of ‘Community Promotions Officer’.
All of this has only been made possible by your strong support over the past ten years. Thank you for helping us to provide this service to our community.
To help your local community newspaper celebrate its 10th birthday and plan for many more, please drop on by the office at 93 Bathurst Street Condobolin during the first week of May -We’ll have some birthday cake.

Humbug Creek floods Ungarie

Ungarie recently experienced its worst flood in over 20 years. Photo contributed by Gaige Blackburn.By Dominic Geiger

The village of Ungarie experienced its worst flood in over 20 years last week, with 12 properties being evacuated and at least 15 properties experiencing some level of floor flooding.
The water level peaked at 1.7 metres at the height of the flood and cut Ungarie Central School off from the rest of the town.
The town’s sewerage plant was also inundated and Bland Shire Council was forced to provide 30 Porta Loos for residents.
Kathy McConnell, owner of Ungarie Butchery, said the water had risen up to her knees in the back part of the shop.
“We’ve just been cleaning everything with pressure cleaners,” she said.
“The water has gone through the butchery a number of times while we’ve been here, so we weren’t concerned, but every time is different to the last.
“The railway has also broken due to the floods.”
Kathy said despite 30cm of water on the main street, people in the town seemed to be in good spirits.
“There have been a lot of kids yabbying in the main street,” she said.
“The smell isn’t too bad either because we sandbagged pretty heavily.”
The NSW SES service issued an all clear notice at 9:34pm on Thursday the 24th of March.
The statement said despite receding floodwaters, residents were urged not to attempt to walk, ride or drive through still flooded areas.
“This is the main cause of death and injury during floods,” the statement said.

Tottenham residents finally get answers from Air Ambulance

Graeme Field, Manager Aeromedical Services, Ambulance Service of NSW; Mitty Davies, Royal Flying Doctor Service Representative; Former board member of RFDS, John Wasley; Royal Flying Doctor Service Base Manager Ben Nicholls; Tottenham Lions Club President and  Chairman of the Tottenham Health Advisory Council Richard Clegg. DGBy Dominic Geiger

Members of the Tottenham community are relieved after having finally met with representatives from NSW Air Ambulance and the Royal Flying Doctors Service (RFDS) to discuss upgrades needed for the town’s airstrip.
The meeting, which also included members of Lachlan Shire Council, was held at the Tottenham Hospital last Thursday.
The Tottenham community has been encountering difficulties during emergency situations since last August with Air Ambulance services repeatedly being unable to land on the town’s airstrip.
In the most recent emergency, Tottenham resident Ben Nicholls was forced to travel over an hour by road to Nyngan before being retrieved by the Air Ambulance service and taken to a Sydney hospital.
At the end of the meeting, a list of five necessary upgrades to the Tottenham airstrip was completed and left in the hands of the Tottenham community and Lachlan Shire Council for implementation.
These upgrades include:
A Hardstand parking and loading area, built so patients no longer need to be picked up from the runway.
An increase of the runway length from 930 metres to 1080 metres
GPS data of the airstrip made available to the Air Ambulance and RFDS
Permanent lighting for the runway after dark
A fence to keep wildlife off the runway.
The Air Ambulance and RFDS also encouraged the Lachlan Shire Council to employ a number of qualified Tottenham residents to relay information to Air Ambulance pilots about the conditions of the runway during an emergency.
Ben Nicholls, who attended the meeting, said the controversy could have been avoided if there had been a better communication network set up between the Air Ambulance and the people of Tottenham.
“When I needed the Air Ambulance the response I got was instantly that the service didn’t go to Tottenham,” he said.
“This problem first became apparent last year, and no one has ever told us why planes couldn’t land.”
Ben also made an unopposed motion to encourage the Air Ambulance Service to review the communication process immediately following an emergency.

Local Authority warms to new fire strategy

Examining the potential of new controlled burning practices: Dr Milton Lewis, Wiradjuri Elder and project partner Aunty Evelyn Coe and Russell Hill. DGBy Dominic Geiger

The Lachlan  Catchment Management Authority (CMA) has announced it will be trialling a revolutionary long-term approach to controlled burning in the Condobolin region.
Speaking at an information evening on the 15th of this month, Dr Milton Lewis outlined how new controlled burning methods being used in northern Australia would be coupled with traditional local Aboriginal knowledge to create more sustainable burning practices in the Lachlan Shire.
Dr Lewis said he hoped the change in burning practises would lead to an increase in native flora and fauna in the Lachlan Valley, as it had done in the Northern Territory.
“In my work with the Gouldian Finch, we discovered fire played a major role in what food was available for the bird to eat,” he said.
“The bird’s numbers were decreasing dramatically and no one knew why; no one thought that it might simply have no food available.”
Dr Lewis said a change in the way fire had been managed in the Northern Territory since European settlement had led to many native species becoming threatened.
“When I came back from the Northern Territory I felt the southern states were facing the same problem,” he said.
“People were burning but they didn’t know how to burn.”
Dr Lewis also said the change in fire use in the Northern Territory had led to better results for cattle graziers.
“People in the N.T were able to increase beef production by not burning a certain type of grass,” he said.
The CMA will be looking for ten local land owners to allow long-term controlled burning experiments on their properties.
Catchment Officer Russell Hill, who also spoke at the information evening, said the project would work with the local Aboriginal community to offer employment opportunities.
“We’re trying to engage Aboriginal people with the land owners and land managers and increase their understanding of fire,” he said.
Russell also said the CMA would be working closely with all interested parties in the community on this project.

Tupperware to help those in need

By Dominic Geiger

Coordinator of the Rural Adversities Mental Health Program Di Gill is taking her care for those vulnerable to mental health disorders well beyond the Condobolin Hospital.
The committed mental health worker has recently organised a Tupperware sales drive, with at least $700 worth of Tupperware being donated to the Queensland town of Toowoomba, which is still recovering from recent floods.
She said a further 10% of money made from the sale would also be donated to the cause.
“The reason we’re doing this is because in some cases, everything’s been washed away,” she said.
“People don’t have anything to put their food in, so that’s why we’re sending Tupperware.”
She said the collection of goods being sent to the town wasn’t simply limited to containers.
“We’re also sending children’s toys,” she said.
“These gifts take the anxiety and stress off people who have found themselves in unfortunate circumstances.
“It also helps the mental health of the person donating the goods, since they feel like they’re helping a worthy cause.”
Di said if sales reached $1200 Tupperware would add a further $300 worth of goods for donation.
If anyone would like to make a purchase for the flood relief, Di can be contacted on 0427460430.

Stay safe in bushfire season

With all the recent rain and the lush growth of vegetation, fires are a risk – so get ready.It is your responsibility to prepare yourself, your family, your home and property for the threat of bush fire.You need to act decisively in accordance with your Bush Fire Survival Plan when bush fires threaten. Your survival depends on your preparations and the decisions you make.

As soaring temperatures and the on-set of the summer storm season increase the risk of bushfires across regional New South Wales, Country Energy warns that electricity and fire can be a dangerous mix.
Country Energy’s acting regional general manager Ben McClements, is urging the community to prepare properties for bushfire season, and to adopt some important electrical safety precautions.
“Simple things, like mowing lawns regularly, cleaning any leaves and other debris from gutters and not planting trees near powerlines, can help to protect your property from fire,” Ben said.
“We regularly inspect our powerlines to maintain fire safety clearances, but we also appreciate customer feedback and encourage people to call Country Energy on 13 20 80 to let us know of any trees growing dangerously near lines on properties.”
Ben said whether you choose to leave an at-risk area early, or stay and defend your property, there are a number of things you can do to help prevent electrical accidents during a bushfire.
”Having a manual or fuel operated water pump and stand-alone source of water available is essential if you stay to defend your property – it could be lifesaving if the fire cuts the power supply and electric pumps don’t work,” Ben said.
“If you decide to leave, Country Energy recommends that you turn off the main switches in your meter box, as this can help reduce the risk of electrical wires short-circuiting or sparking, and when you’re driving look out for fallen lines across the road.
“When you come back, check whether any nearby overhead powerlines appear damaged, are sagging or have fallen to the ground and, if they are, keep at least eight metres clear – don’t touch or move them under any circumstances – and contact Country Energy immediately on 13 20 80,” Ben said.
“It’s also vital to keep well away from anything that damaged powerlines may be in contact with, such as tree branches, water pipes and fences, as these may have become energised.”
Country Energy warns that it can take less than a millionth of a second for electricity to pass from a powerline through a tree branch to a person, and removal of trees or branches on or near powerlines should only be done by qualified personnel.
For further information concerning electrical safety contact 13 23 56, drop into your nearest Customer Service Centre or visit www.countryenergy.com.au

THINGS TO CONSIDER

Equipment & machinery use in bushfire prone areas:

If you use equipment and machinery, or if you supervise these operations for industry, you must observe fire regulations and safety precautions. As well, you must make yourself aware of the declaration of Total Fire Bans and stop work prohibited by Total Fire Bans as soon as they are announced.

On days of Total Fire Ban:
Welding, grinding, soldering (with flame) and gas cutting in the open air are prohibited by the Rural Fires Act in most cases. Certain exemptions may be granted for: “fires lit, maintained or used by or under the authority of any person or body of persons corporate or unincorporate, for, or in connection with the repair or maintenance of services or equipment essential for continuance or restoration of the supply or provision of heat, light, power, water, sewage, transport or communication subject to observance of the special conditions that all reasonable steps are taken to prevent the escape of fire, sparks, or incandescent or burning material therefrom.”
The use of machinery such as tractors, slashers or even chainsaws should be postponed if possible, as the risk of starting fires is extremely high. If the work is essential, follow the general rules outlined for the Bush Fire Danger Season and use extreme care.

Bush Fire Danger Season Obligations:
When carrying out welding, grinding, soldering or gas cutting in the open air you should:
Place a shield or guard of fire resistant material in such a way as to prevent emission of sparks and hot pieces of metal from the area where you are working.
Keep an area of 3 metres around the work completely cleared of flammable material or wet down sufficiently to prevent the spread of fire. This is particularly important where waste wood, sawdust, bark, or dry grass is in the vicinity.
Have close at hand a reticulated water supply or an effective water spray pump, such as a knapsack, fully charged with 16 litres of water.
Have a fire extinguisher (liquid type) of 9 litre minimum capacity.
Have a fireproof receptacle for cut-offs and electrode stubs.

Extinguishing spot fires:
Because the easiest, most effective way to extinguish fire is to apply water, it is important to have adequate, accessible water storage and an effective way of distributing it.
If you are on a reticulated water supply, everyone in the area, including the CFS, will be using the mains water supply, causing a severe loss in water pressure.

How much water will you need?
This is a difficult question to answer. The CFS recommendsat least 5000 litres for firefighting (using a fire pump with hoses etc) or 22,000 litres if you have installed asprinkler system.

Prepare a Bush Fire Survival Plan and discuss it with your family.
One of the most important decisions you need to make to protect you and your family is will you “Leave Early” or “Stay and Defend” a wellprepared property. Regardless of your decision preparation is the key to survival.
– If you are going to leave – prepare for where you are going to go, how you are going to get there and what you are going to take
– If you are going to stay, you must have a plan for how you are going to survive and where you
will shelter. Know what equipment you need
– Have a contingency plan – know where your nearest Neighbourhood Safer Place is
– You need to be both mentally and physically prepared to carry out your survival plan
– Prepare your home and property to survive a fire front and ensure you have adequate levels of insurance.

Tempest’s turmoil in Condobolin

Trees go down around Condobolin: pictured is the storm damage in Bathurst Street.By Olivia McInnes

The aftermath of the brief yet intense storm in Condobolin on Saturday afternoon saw branches crashing onto footpaths, roadways and fences and whole trees reefed out of the ground damaging at least three homes.A house in Condobolin's Goodwill Street is damaged by a fallen tree
The SES was called for assistance on Saturday night after a particularly destructive storm caused a tree to be completely up-rooted in Bathurst Street, Condobolin. The tree fell across a two bedroom flat causing a considerable amount of damage.
Neighbour to the flat Mrs Dorothy Turner said, ‘There was a lot of lightening and very loud thunder. I heard a crash and when I looked out the window I saw the tree had gone from view and realised it must have fallen across the house next door’.
Mrs Turner also said that it was an inevitable event, as previously the roots of the tree had been cut back in order for the water mains to be run along the street. This she believes would have ‘weakened the tree’.
Thankfully the resident of the building was not home during the time of the storm, and there were no reported casualties. Spokesperson for the owner of the flats, Sue Mitchell, says there was however significant damage to the roof, front and veranda of the house. Outside, the fence was also broken and much of the lawn up-rooted. Country Energy was called to disconnect the power on Saturday night which has since been reconnected, enabling the tenant to move back in.
Nearby in Orange Street, strong winds resulted in an air conditioner being blown off the roof of Lee Haworth’s house. A tree also fell into his yard, demolishing his garden shed, basket ball ring, shade sail, tiles of the house roof and an air conditioning unit.
The worst damage was in Goodwill Street where an enormous tree fell across the roof of a block of flats causing extensive damage.  Owner of the flats Mrs Shirley Donnelly said ‘I was in the kitchen when I heard the wind coming and then I heard a huge crash’. After looking out the window, she saw ‘the tree lying flat across the building next door’.  She reported that ‘the roof and ceiling on the end of the building where the tree fell was completely demolished. It took the contractor seven and a half hours to remove the tree’.
Fortunately, again there were no casualties reported, however Mrs Donnelly also commented that ‘if the tree had have fallen in the direction of my house, you would have been attending my funeral’.

LS Council outdoor staff, Country Energy crews, the Fire Brigade and the SES were kept very busy clearing up with multiple callouts and incidents to deal with. Spokesperson for the SES Judy Price said ‘there were eight SES workers on Saturday night and four on Sunday. We had six big tree jobs and one damaged roof job’.
Judy also offered some advice for the community; ‘the main thing for the public to remember is to keep gutters clean before storms hit, as that’s how water builds up and causes flood’. She added, ‘It’s worrying to see kids playing in gutters as you only have to have a surge of water and someone to slip and they’ve gone down a storm channel’.
In another storm last Wednesday 2nd February, Tony Robert’s house in Turner street was lucky to escape the fall off a large street tree as it crashed into his yard, taking out the power line and leaving a large gaping hole in the footpath. LS Council staff was quick onto the scene to clear up the timber.
Condobolin landscape gardener, Cary L’Estrange said, “It doesn’t matter what type of tree you plant in gardens or on footpaths – a really big storm can take it out. There are no hard and fast rules and we have to look at this recent storm as a once in a blue moon event.”
“Trees along the roads have a hard time developing a decent root system because of the tarmac and road compaction. Another factor for trees to fall is if they have been weakened by disease, borers or white ants – they become much more susceptible.”

Safe pedestrian education

The Ambulance Service of NSW encourages parents to educate their children about how to be a safe pedestrian.
Sixteen child pedestrians were killed on Australian roads last year and many more were seriously injured. As thousands of schoolchildren return back to school, parents are being urged to teach their children good pedestrian habits.
1. Set a good example. Parents/care givers are the best road safety teachers.
2. Never assume that an approaching vehicle can see you, or will stop for you. Wait until all
vehicles have stopped before you cross.
3. Always use pedestrian crossings
4. At traffic lights, make sure that vehicles stop before you start to cross, and don’t enter the road
if vehicles are moving through the crossing.
5. Avoid crossing between parked cars or at the front or back of buses.
6. Children up to eight years old should hold an adult’s hand on the footpath, in the car park or
when crossing the road.
7. Take the time to make sure your children are aware of, understand and follow traffic safety
regulations when they are walking.
8. Teach your children to be aware of their environment: for example, wearing headphones or
getting distracted by playing with friends on the way to or from school can make them more
vulnerable to accidents.
9. Make sure your own driving and parking are not endangering your own or others’ children.
Obey all parking signs and speed limits, and always be on the lookout for the unexpected.
Many traffic safety issues around schools arise from the driving and parking behaviour of
parents.
10. Never call your child across the road.

Tottenham residents demand answers from Air Ambulance

By Dominic Geiger

A failure in communication between Tottenham residents and the New South Wales Air Ambulance service is continuing to put lives at risk.
Over the past 6 months, there have been at least three cases where the Air Ambulance service has been unable to land at Tottenham, with one patient even being driven 87kms to Nyngan before he was air lifted to a Sydney hospital.
Tottenham resident Ben Nicholls said it took over two and half hours from when he suffered a heart attack until he was finally flown to Sydney.
“The Air Ambulance service seems to have a no go area on Tottenham,” he said.
“What we want to know is why; so far we haven’t been able to get any real answers from the service.”
A spokesperson for the Ambulance Service of NSW said the decision to land at any air strip was entirely at the pilot’s discretion.
“The pilot… is responsible for the safety of the aircraft, staff and patients,” he said.
“The pilot makes the final decision on a case by case basis based on the weather, runway conditions and therefore suitability for landing.”
Despite this, Mayor of Lachlan Shire, Des Manwaring, said at the council meeting on Wednesday the 19th of January, he was made aware that the Air Ambulance service immediately refused to fly to Tottenham upon receiving a call from the nurse treating Mr Nicholls.
“What Ben is saying is that when he suffered a heart attack, the call only got as far as the ambulance admin,” he said.
“There’s obviously a lack of communication because as far as we’re aware, the call didn’t get as far as the pilot.
“We just want to know why they won’t land; if they told us we’d be able to fix the problem but we just don’t know what’s wrong.”
George Cowan, General Manager of Lachlan Shire, said they were trying to organise a meeting with Air Ambulance personnel to determine the problem.
In the meantime however, he said the Tottenham Lions Cub had offered to donate up to $45,000 in financial assistance to the council to get the air strip up to scratch, should repairs or upgrades be needed.

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