Rescue Down Under, Melbourne, Australia, September 1999
Rescue Down Under (RDU) was the first of the current format World Rescue Challenges and set the benchmark for future world challenges.
It was hosted by the combined emergency services from the Australian state of Victoria. The Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES), which is a volunteer based emergency rescue service with civil defence responsibilities, led the 18 month planning for RDU and actually conducted two events in one over 7 days. VICSES hosted the Australian national rescue challenge in the first 3 days, followed by a one day symposium and concluding with 3 days devoted to the World Rescue Challenge. The Kiwi’s in New Zealand are the only ones to repeat this mammoth feat in 2005 with much support from the Australasian Road Rescue Organisation (ARRO) team.
To manage the logistics for this ‘double header’ members of the Australian National Road Accident Rescue Association (The predecessor to the ARRO) came from all over Australia to assist. In addition a relationship which has continued since then was established with Holden, the Australian arm of General Motors, which saw them donate 150 new or near new motor vehicles for the scenarios for the teams across the two challenges.
A panel of international assessors was formed to provide a balanced overview of the performance of the teams. Assessors came from Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, England, Canada and the United States.
Of the many key benchmarks set during this event was the use of live casualties complete with make up to simulate injuries, as well as a significant social program, with daily newsletters for all participants and a web site for friends and families to get live updates of each day’s activities.
RDU World Rescue Challenge:
The event itself saw a total of 22 teams from 9 countries (Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA, England, Scotland, Wales, Singapore and Malaysia) participate in the challenge in two classes (limited and unlimited).