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Exceptional acts recognised in search and rescue awards

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has congratulated the recipients of this year’s National Search and Rescue (NATSAR) Awards for 2022-23.

The awards were presented by the NATSAR Council in Hobart last night, in recognition of outstanding contributions to search and rescue within the Australian region.

AMSA Chief Executive Officer Mick Kinley said it was an honour to recognise and applaud the actions of the recipients.

“Each year since 1996, we have proudly presented these awards to people who have shown extraordinary professionalism and resilience,” he said.

“It is a poignant reminder that, at any given moment, people all over the country are ready to swing into action in times of crisis.”

NATSAR Council Chairperson and AMSA Executive Director of Response Mark Morrow said it is important to recognise the efforts of search and rescue professionals, as well as volunteers and members of the public, who selflessly assist others.

“The NATSAR Awards allow us to say thank you to the recipients, and to the many hundreds of search and rescue volunteers and emergency responders around the country,” he said.

The awards were presented for three categories: Professional, Non-Professional and Long-Standing Contribution to Search and Rescue.

The NATSAR Council is a cooperative body responsible for national search and rescue response arrangements in Australia.

NATSAR Council members are comprised of AMSA, the Australian Defence Force and state, territory and federal police.

The recipients of this year’s NATSAR Awards are:

Professional Search and Rescue

Award: The crew of the NSW Police boat Nemesis showed concerted professionalism and determination in carrying out a long-range ocean rescue of stricken two sailors from the Tasman Sea. The Nemesis crew were supported throughout by a land-based team.

Commendation: AFP Maritime, Air Support and Search and Rescue Teams, ACT, for a complex rescue of a person from Kambah Pool, in the swollen Murrumbidgee River, ACT.

Non-Professional Search and Rescue

Award: Luke Baldock from Yallingup, WA, who went to the aid of two children in an overturned tinnie near Yeagarup, on Western Australia’s south coast.

Commendation: Halyee O’Connell from Nannup, WA, who spent two years searching for her missing brother.

Long-Standing Contribution to Search and Rescue

Award: Sergeant Damian Bidgood from Hobart, a 30-year police veteran of search and rescue in Tasmania, who has made an extremely significant contribution over his career.

Commendation: Jeffrey Caldwell from Gladstone, QLD, for 25 years’ of outstanding service to Volunteer Marine Rescue Gladstone.

Senior Constable Ben Cox, AFP ACT, Robert Blackwood, Assistant Commissioner, Tasmania Police, Haylee O’Connell, WA, Sergeant Reginald Dwyer, AFP ACT, Senior Constable Ewan Locke, AFP ACT, Mark Morrow, AMSA, Jeffrey Caldwell (QLD), Luke Baldock, WA, Sergeant Ryan Spong, NSW Police, Leading Senior Constable Bruce Tape, NSW Police, Senior Constable Hayley Upton, NSW Police and Sergeant Damian Bidgood, Tasmania Police.