VRA updates fleet

Narrandera VRA members Alastair Macdonald, Wayne Heidtmann and Dennis Elmer receive the keys to their new rescue boat from Bendigo Bank manager Rob Hanlon. Photo: Kim Woods.

Narrandera Volunteer Rescue Squad unveiled the newest addition to its fleet of rescue water craft this week, largely thanks to a $38,500 donation by the Bendigo Bank.

The keys were handed over to VRA captain Wayne Heidtmann of a 4.4m boat fitted with a Yamaha 60hp motor, side console, UHF radio and bilge pump, valued at a total cost of $33,500.

And, the squad is also set to receive a new medium rigid rescue truck and equipment under a $18.8 million state wide grant to upgrade rescue vehicles and equipment announced a year ago. Due to arrive in April, the new truck will compliment the squad’s existing truck, an Acco 1950, formerly a police rescue vehicle on the NSW coast.

The squad’s headquarters are being fitted out with a new kitchen under a $12,500 grant on the back of Narrandera’s announcement as a central training hub for the region in 2020.

Mr Heidtmann said the new boat brought the squad’s fleet of water craft to five but the older craft would be gradually decommissioned.

“This boat will help us to no end in floods, river searches and when helping other squads – it’s a god send from the Bendigo Bank to sponsor us to buy this boat,” he said. “Otherwise it would have taken us years of fundraising barbecues.

“Wagga Marine Centre built the boat to our specifications. We will now add a first aid kit and other equipment to it.”

Mr Heidtmann said the last flood rescue and fodder drops were made in 2012 but members were prepared if the current drought breaks with a major flood.

During 2019, the squad invested in portable battery operated cutters and spreaders, and emergency lighting.

“The Narrandera town donated the money via the barbecues to buy the spreaders, and the battery-operated emergency lighting used for crime scenes or accidents, was donated by Narrandera Ex-Servicemen’s Club,” Mr Heidtmann said.

Bendigo Bank branch manager Robert Hanlon said the community bank was happy to help out local organisations.

“This is made through the philanthropic Community Foundation,” he said.

Located on the junction of five major roads, the squad calls on around eight members and aims to double its membership this year.

The VRA is the primary rescue unit for the area and works closely with Fire and Rescue NSW.

Mr Heidtmann said the holiday season was quiet with no call-outs, enabling volunteers time away to fight fires.

Narrandera VRA assisted fire fighters and emergency services by transporting food and supplies to the NSW fire grounds.

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