World-Class Facility Teaches Life-Saving Professionals How To Save Themselves

If you find yourself in an emergency situation anywhere in Australia, you’d want to be in New South Wales.

The state’s Toll aircrew and paramedics are all taken through a rigorous training program at the world-leading ACE training facility in Bankstown.

10 News First had an exclusive look behind the scenes at the centre -- the only one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

Image: Kimberley Pratt

The training starts with a four-hour classroom course to study how to handle yourself, and others, in the unlikely event your helicopter ditches into the ocean.

They learn how to winch themselves and their patients to safety as  well as how to operate Emergency Breathing Systems.

Then, it’s into the pool to practice.

Well, it’s not just a pool but a highly sophisticated Helicopter Underwater Escape Training facility, fitted out with a simulated chopper on a crane, powerful wind and wave machines and a special effects sound system.

General Manager Scott Watkins told 10 News First it’s as advanced as any in the world and is the only one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

“Experiencing wind, rain, waves, thunder even lightning -- all simulated of course -- is something that is extremely unique… there’s nothing quite like it in Australia," he said.

“Heaven forbid anyone finds themselves in that situation, but if they do, their chances of survival are significantly increased.”

10 News First cameraman Harry Clapson. Image: Kimberley Pratt

For those completing the training, the dauntingly realistic scenario has made them feel more prepared than ever.

Chief air crewmen Dan Hoare said the environmental conditions just “adds to the realism”.

“It’s very realistic … having been winched into a helicopter and also in the trainer, they are extremely similar,” he said.

Contact the author: kpratt@networkten.com.au