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THE HISTORY OF THE GLEN INNES V.R.A. RESCUE SQUAD


  (A WORK IN PROGRESS!)

GLEN INNES RESCUE SQUAD CELEBRATES 40 YEARS OF SERVICE IN 2015

            Calendar of events

In the winter of 1974 a serious accident was witnessed by a Glen Innes Lions Club member who was astonished at the lack of equipment the Police and Tow Truck Operator had at the scene.  Subsequently the Glen Innes Lions Club under the leadership of Tony Beniac and later Bruce Brummell adopted the formation of a Rescue Squad as their community service major project.  On Friday 20th September 1974, a decision was made to form a Rescue group in Glen Innes with the Lions Club making a donation of $5000 towards the initial cost.

At a meeting attended by  Sergeant Ray Tyson, Max Walters and Les Clarke local citizens formed a Rescue Group after being advised that initial training would be conducted by members of the Sydney based Police Rescue Squad.

-All funds for the purchase of equipment will be raised from the local community and used for the benefit of the local community.  The Rescue group will be purely locally controlled-.  This statement is quoted from the Glen Innes Examiner of Tuesday November 12, 1974.

A later issue dated January 7th, 1975 printed an article -Glen Group Prepares to Start Training Operations- which states -members will be sought during the next couple of months-.

The 14 foundation members listed underwent their initial training on the 19th & 20th September 1975 under the control of Sgt. Ray Tyson & Constable Garry Raymond of the Police Rescue Squad.

The first vehicle was a 1972 Toyota Landcruiser purchased 2nd hand for $1300.  It had a 3 speed gearbox and a miles-per-hour speedometer!  The first shed was a prefabricated steel garage erected behind the fire station.  It soon became evident that a larger building was required and our main vehicle would soon need up-dating.

 The calendar of events tells the story of our progress .

 It is hard to imagine that some humour can come out of our work  but it certainly can.

North of Yarraford an elderly couple ran off the road and into a creek.  Severe frontal damage was sustained by the car and the driver was trapped by the feet but was otherwise OK.  His wife was not hurt and when she realised her husband was trapped by the feet shouted repeatedly: - Take his foot off!! Take his foot off!!.   By pulling up his trouser leg the straps of an artificial foot were exposed.  In fact there were TWO artificial feet!  The driver was quickly released and carried to the ambulance.

On another occasion a couple went over the Ben Lomond Range.  They remained belted in and appeared unhurt.  The only way to get the stretcher cases up to the Ambulance was by a 4 x 4 vehicle.  To make adequate space, tools had to be taken out.  When a Squad member had a shovel in his hand the elderly lady looked up from the Stokes litter and said You can put that away – you wont need it yet.
These are the incidents we like to remember
– the other incidents, once they are over and done with, we like to forget about.

CALENDAR OF  EVENTS

(Apologies for any inaccuracies - the calendar was originally drawn up by a past member who is no longer with us)

1974             Glen Innes Lions Club plan formation of a Rescue Organisation.
                     Rescue Group formed – M. Walters, R. Tyson, L. Clarke present.

1975             Purchase of Toyota vehicle and basic equipment proceeds.
                     Foundation members and reserves elected by Police and others.
                     First training weekend conducted by Sgt. Ray Tyson and Constable Garry Raymond.

                     John Duncan leads the squad as its first Captain
                     First callout – Fatal head-on M.V.A.(Motor Vehicle Accident)
                  

1977            Captain: John Duncan; Deputy Captain: Brian Donelly

                    Squad demolishes difficult timber water tower at Chaffey's garage.

1978           Captain: John Duncan;  Deputy Captains: Ron Kiehne, Earl Sharman
                     Inverell and Guyra Squads receive initial training.


1979             Captain: John Duncan;  Deputy Captains: Ron Kiehne, Brian Donnelly  

                    Chairman : Jack Harvison 

                    Dec 1979 - Earl Sharman elected Captain, Mike Digby elected Deputy Captain

 1980            John Duncan appointed Deputy Regional Coordinator

                    Chairman: Mike Digby. Captain: Ron Kiehne, Deputy Captains: John Duncan, Earl Sharman

                   Squad moves to new HQ at rear of Severn Shire offices, Church St.

                    Ford F350 truck purchased   (ex- Police Rescue truck)                

1981            Captain: Brian Donnelly, Deputy Captains: Robert Cooper, Earl Sharman

                      Horse down well incident. (Successful recovery!)

                    John and Kris Duncan farewelled.

1982            Captain: Brian Donnelly, Deputy Captains: Robert Cooper, Ron Kiehne

1983             Captain: Ron Biddle, Deputy Captains: Ron Kiehne, Brian Donnelly

                    Regional Training organised by Brian Donnelly & Earl Sharman

1984             Tragic death of  Sgt John Brodie. (Electrocuted)

                      Major work on building extensions.
                     Death of Lions Past President Bruce Brummell.

                    Squad is classified  A Grade by VRA

                    Captain: Ron Kiehne,  Deputy Captains: Robert Cooper, Brian Donnelly

1985             Tenth Birthday.
                    Ford F350 (Primary Rescue Response Unit)  is commissioned at Glen Innes Show.
                    Opening of John Brodie Memorial Building.

                    Captain: Ron Kiehne, Deputy Captains: Mike Digby, Ron Biddle

1986             VRA of NSW mid-year conference – Glen Innes.

                    Captain: Ron Biddle, Deputy Captains: Ron Kiehne, Mike Gray

                    Resignation of Ron Kiehne on his moving to Queensland.

                    Earl Sharman elected Deputy Captain

1987             Brian Donnelly resigns due to death of his wife to care for his young family. 

                    Captain: Ron Biddle, Deputy Captains: Mike Solomon, Mike Gray

1988             Phone call-out system replaced by Radio Pagers.
                     Sudden death of Brian Donnelly.
                     Ron Biddle elected Captain. Deputy Captains: Mike Solomon, Mike Gray
                     Profile of Glen Innes Squad presented to General Grey.

                    Glen Innes squad is Incorporated as Glen Innes Rescue Squad Inc.

                    Driver Reviver stops initiated.

1989            Squad helps Opportunity Shop to move to new premises.

                    Mike Gray elected Captain. Deputy Captains: Ron Biddle, Mike Solomon

1990             Glen Innes Squad accredited as the primary response unit for the area.
                    
                    Captain: Mike Gray, Deputy Captains: Ron Biddle, Bob McLeod
                     Squad falls dangerous pine trees and donates $2500 towards Mobile Breast Screening Unit.

1991             Toyota Troop carrier purchased, helped by Steve Pollard’s legacy.

                    Squad assists at Inverell floods.

                     Captain: Mike Gray, Deputy Captains: Ron Biddle, Bob McLeod

1992           
                     Kombi camper impaled on Armco rail.
                     Regional Training weekend held at Yarraford.

                    Captain: Bob McLeod, Deputy Captains: Mike Gray, Ron Biddle

1993            Captain: Bob McLeod, Deputy Captains:Peter Adams, Mike Gray

1994              First G.P.S. unit purchased.

                    Captain: Bob McLeod, Deputy Captains: Peter Adams, MIke Gray

                    Highway escort to Blazing Saddles Irish cyclists – Sydney to Brisbane.

1995             20th Birthday celebrations –
                     Ray Gill presents Life Membership to Ron Biddle, Noeline Lane and Mike Digby.
                     Purchase of Hurst Tool.

                    Regional Training

                     Squad moves to Motorola voice-over paging system linked to phone.

                    Captain: MIke Gray, Deputy Captains: Bob McLeod, Peter Adams

1996            Malcolm and Noeline Lane presented with Long Service medals

 

1997             Purchase of vertical rescue equipment
                     Tragic loss of Graeme and Jeanette Wiley in MVA.

                    Captain: MIke Gray, Deputy Captains: Bob McLeod, Peter Adams
                     Our efforts are recognised by the NSW Legislative Assembly.

1998              Holden Station Wagon purchased and fitted out as Rescue 3.
                      Original Toyota sold for $700 above its purchased price
                      Toyota Troop Carrier set up for bush search and Vertical Rescue.
                     Purchase of Crux Rescue Frame.

                       Captain: Peter Adams, Deputy Captains: Mike Gray, Mike Brewer

1999               Peter Adams accredited winchman Helicopter Rescue.

2000              25 years service to the community celebrated.

                       Captain: Peter Adams, Deputy Captains: Mike Gray, Mike Brewer

2001              (April) Mike Brewer elected Captain. - Deputy Captains: Andrew Slomczewski, Mark Swaffer

                        Garmin GPS units added to Boat and Toyota 4WD. 

                        Major local exercise involving all emergency services -( Bus Crash and Hazmat) - organised by Mike Brewer and Insp. George McGilvray (Glen Innes Police).


 2002                Captain: Mike Brewer, Deputy Captains:  Mark Swaffer, Firth fergusson

2003                  Captain: Mike Brewer, Deputy Captains:  Mark Swaffer, Firth fergusson                        

2004            Long-serving Chairman and Foundation Member, Mike Digby,   passed away on Sunday 6th June 2004.  Mike was an active Rescue Operator from the time of the squad's formation in 1975 up till the time of his death. He was elected Chairman in 1980 and served in that capacity until his death.   Mike often said that his community service was his rent for living in the community .

                   Mark Swaffer  elected Chairman. Mike Brewer Captain.Deputy Captains: Firth Fergusson, Andrew Slomczewski

2005            Commodore station wagon replaced by Holden Crewman ute.

                    Captain: Mike Brewer, Deputy Captains: Mark Swaffer, Russell Scott

2006            Mike Gray elected Chairman. Captain:Mike Brewer, Deputy Captain: Russell Scott

2007            Captain: Mike Brewer, Deputy Captains: Firth Fergusson, Russell scott

                    24th November - Memorial plaque for Mike Digby unveiled at HQ.

2008            Phone Conference Call system established as secondary callout mechanism.

                    Captain: Mike Brewer, Deputy Captains: Graham Pagden, Glen Spencer,


2009              Rescue Oneour faithful Ford F350 primary rescue vehicle was retired after 24 years service and replaced by our new Isuzu unit. The new vehicle was commissioned on 27th June after being designed and  fitted out by squad members. The official commissioning was the occasion for a reunion of some past squad members.

                       Ron Biddle, Russell Scott and Margaret Ridley were presented with VRA Long Service medals.

                        Mike Gray elected as a Life Member of the squad.

                        Captain: Mike Brewer, Deputy Captains: Graham Pagden, Glen Spencer.  Chairman: Russell Scott

 

2010               Mike Brewer Captain. Graham Pagden and Glen Spencer Deputy Captains.

                        Ron Biddle presented with 35 years' service clasp.

                        Russell Scott  awarded "Emergency Services Volunteer of the Year" at the Glen Innes-Severn Australia Day celebrations.

                       Jeffrey Donnelly (Training Officer) organises Regional Training Exercise.

                        Mike Gray retired  from active duty.

                       35th Anniversary of the squad's formation.

                        Planning and construction of  a new Training Room and Office commenced - $10000 grant from NSWVRA assist.

  2011            Glen Innes Rescue Squad awarded "Volunteer Organisation of the Year" at Glen Innes-Severn  Australia Day awards.

                        As a result of Narelle Palgrave's (Public Relations Officer)  efforts, "Tooheys New Crew" selects Glen Innes Rescue Squad as recipient of  its "Million beers worth of favours" project - to complete the new training room  and install a new kitchen at rescue HQ.

                        Mike Brewer's 10th year as Captain.  Graham Pagden and Glen Spencer Deputy Captains.

                        35th Anniversary Dinner at Glen Innes golf Club.

                        (September) Mike Brewer re-elected as Captain. Glen Spencer and Graham Pagden Vice-Captains. Russell Scott Chairman, Christine Davidson Secretay, Ann-Marie Mills Vice-Chairman, Ross Mathieson Treasurer.

                         Russell Scott elected Life Member of the squad.

  2012         Mike Brewer re-elected Captain, Graham Pagden & Glen Spencer Vice-Captains. Harley Wallis - Training Officer. Russell Scott - Chairman, Desleigh Pagden - Secretary, Ross Mathieson - Treasurer, Ann-Marie Mills - Vice Chairman. 

2013    Mike Brewer re-elected Captain, Graham Pagden & Glen Spencer Vice-Captains. Russell Scott - Chairman, Desleigh Pagden - Secretary, Ross Mathieson - Treasurer, Rob Cunningham  - Training Officer

Mike Brewer elected Life Member of the squad.

2014  Mike Brewer re-elected Captain, Graham Pagden & Glen Spencer Vice-Captains. Russell Scott - Chairman, Desleigh Pagden - Secretary, Ross Mathieson - Treasurer , Rob Cunningham Training Officer

2015  Mike Brewer re-elected Captain, Graham Pagden & Anthony Elliott Vice Captains,  Russell Scott - Chairman, Desleigh Pagden - Secretary, Ross Mathieson - Treasurer Glen Spencer Training Officer

Squad assists with NSW Rally Championships held in the Glen Innes area

2016  - Kim Elliott elected Treasurer mid-term after resignation of Ross Mathieson. 

Squad assists with Rally Championships in local area.

 Ford F350 (old Rescue One) transferred from History House museum to Sydney - to be part of Police Rescue memorabilia. 

MIke  Brewer elected Captain, Graham Pagden and Anthony Elliott Vice Captaind, Russell Scott- Chairman, Desleigh Pagden - Secretary, Kim Elliott - Treasurer, Glen Spencer - Training Officer                     

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A MEMORABLE INCIDENT

Many call-outs have been responded to over the years but one in particular stands out.  In the early 80’s a valuable in-foal mare had jumped onto a well cover which collapsed resulting in the mare disappearing down the well.  Luckily she was wearing a rug – it being winter time.

Squad members were able to sedate the mare and lift her out of the well with the aid of the winch on a tow truck.  She suffered no harm at all.


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THE JOHN BRODIE MEMORIAL BUILDING

On a Saturday afternoon in November 1985 the Minister for Police and Corrective Services, Mr Peter Anderson officially opened our building extensions and named them the Sergeant John Brodie Memorial.

John came to Glen Innes in 1980 as Licensing Sergeant and in the following 5 years gained a reputation as a good citizen of the community and was an active member of our Squad being the first at every call-out and was prepared to help at any time.  His level-headed  thinking was a great help to the Squad.

John being a family man took a great interest in the youth of the town.  He was actively involved in the Blue Light Disco and took it upon himself to ensure the welfare of every young person who attended the discos.  Parents knew the children were safe when John Brodie was there.

John was tragically killed in an electrical accident in the home he was building for his family.

Our Squad Chaplain dedicated our building to Johns memory with the following words:

Accept we ask you, this memorial to your servant John Brodie, who by
 your grace rendered unto you in this town true service.
Grant that his example may encourage those who come after to so live
as to please you for the benefit of others.
We humbly ask that you bless this building which we here dedicate and
the equipment therein that it may be used wisely and faithfully to help those
in need.
And we humbly ask you to bless the men and women serving in the Rescue
Squad.  Give them courage and resolution in times of crisis and danger.  And
give them skill, perseverance and good humour in all that they have to do that
those whom they serve may experience trust love and compassion at their
hands and to your Glory.


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THE BRIAN DONNELLY TRAGEDY

The late Brian Donnelly, generally known to his family as “Wallaby”, was a foundation member of the Squad and his knowledge, skills and initiative created many pieces of equipment.  He was a great help in the construction of the extensions to our building.  Following Ron Kiehne’s move to Queensland to participate in the harvest, Brian was elected Captain of the Squad.  His leadership was outstanding and his contribution massive.  He was the holder of an Explosives Licence.

Many informative articles appeared in the Search and Rescue magazine published by the NSW VRA such aas:-
The Safe Handling of Explosives
Maintenance and Operation of Chainsaws
Applications of Block and Tackle  and others.

Brian had a brilliant scholastic record and could have gone on to study medicine but chose to stay on the land.  He was a highly skilled chainsaw operator and many of the older hands will remember him creating garden furniture out of solid logs at a mid-year conference in Glen Innes.

Following the tragic loss of his wife Diana in December 1986, Brian resigned as Captain to take care of his five boys the youngest being only 14 months old.  We insisted he remain a Squad member as we could not afford to lose such a competent man.

It came as a great shock to the entire community when we heard of his sudden death at the age of 44.  Brian had gone to hospital for a minor biopsy operation which apparently brought about his death.

Brian also made a valuable contributions to the Show Committee, Technical College and other town organisations.  His death was a shocking loss not only to the Squad but to the whole community.

His green VRA helmet mounted in a glass show case reminds us daily of his massive contribution.

Vale Brian Donnelly.
 

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THE STEVE POLLARD LEGACY OF $31,850.00

Steve, as a fit young man joined the 2nd A.I.F. and was posted to New Guinea in the dark days of the Japanese advance.

On Shaggy Ridge, Steve took a snipers bullet in the hip and he spent an agonising week being carried out to air transport.

Steve spent some 28 weeks in and out of Greenslopes hospital having his hip joint and pelvis rebuilt.

Rehabilitation training saw him qualify as a craftsman saddler, an occupation which allowed him to sit most of the time.

He spent the rest of his life in his chosen profession in Glen Innes.  He never required the services of the Rescue Squad but was keenly interested in its progress and welfare.

Steve lost his wife in 1983 and they had no family.  Steve passed away in 1987 and his Will dated 1981 simply stated:

 I leave my entire estate to be equally divided between the Seeing Eye Dogs
 for the Blind and the Glen Innes rescue Squad
.

Recent information tells us that Steve and his wife mutually agreed to this Will, so we owe a massive vote of appreciation to this couple.

To Steve himself we recognise you as a good man, a good citizen and a good Australian.

Long may your memory survive.

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THE KIEHNE BROTHERS ERA

Ron Kiehne was chosen as a foundation member of the Squad by the Community Committee for his recovery vehicle, his high physical ability and excellent character.  This proved to be a very wise choice and he proved to be an anchor man for the Squad taking over as Captain from John Duncan.

Perhaps Rons greatest contribution to the Squad was the construction of the back to our Ford F350.  This work reflects the highest standard of workmanship and finish – not to mention the excellent design which makes maximum use to all possible space.  Ray Tyson considered  this vehicle to be one of the best designed and equipped road rescue units in the state.

Ron resigned from the squad to run a grain harvesting business in Queensland in 1987 . I quote from his letter of resignation:-

 To all the new and prospective members I would like to say that the
 Rescue Squad is one of the most beneficial and rewarding organisations
 that anyone person could be involved in.
 Some things I can only tell you about, that which you must experience
 yourself, the greatest emotional satisfaction you feel when you are able
 to release a trapped and injured person in great pain from a mangled wreck,
 or an animal in a similar situation

Rons younger brother Geoff had to wait two agonising years until his 18th birthday to join the Squad.  He spent his every spare minute cleaning, painting and maintaining tools and equipment and never missed a training day or a call-out.

Geoff left us to join the Ambulance Service and is now the training officer in the western division of the State.  This is a typical progression for Rescue Squad Members as we have over the years lost numerous members either to the Ambulance Service or the Police Service.

Thanks for your contribution, Ron and Geoff.
 

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