Seventeen members of a specialist swift water rescue team who came to the aid of Mid North Coast residents during the March 2021 floods have been recognised internationally for their work.
Fire and Rescue NSW's (FRNSW) Strike Team Zulu has been recognised for their efforts with an Outstanding Achievement Award at the Higgins and Langley Awards in Indianapolis in the US.
The award is for their response and actions during last year's flood that resulted in the rescue of 220 people and 39 animals.
FRNSW Deputy Commissioner Jeremy Fewtrell accepted the award in Indianapolis on behalf of Strike Team Zulu.
"The efforts of the strike team were quite amazing. They got brought down into the location around Port Macquarie and the work they did provided an amazing outcome," he said.
"A number of the areas that were directly impacted by the floods were trailer park facilities where a number of older people were.
"There were people who were not able to move. They were lying in their beds and the water level had reached their beds.
"You can only imagine the horror and anguish those people were encountering at that time and the relief they must have experienced when Gerrard Collins, who was part of the strike team, and his colleagues came and started getting them out."
Strike Team Zulu included FRNSW members from Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle who were deployed to the Mid North Coast to assist in water rescues over a four-day period.
"They did go above and beyond in a number of ways," Dept Commissioner Fewtrell said.
"For me as a commander in the strategic operations centre, it was a very long night knowing they were out there."
Mid North Coast firefighters have also been recognised locally for their selfless actions which helped save lives during the Mid North Coast flood emergency in March 2021.
Among those recognised were crews from Laurieton and Wauchope, who rescued people and animals from the Camden Haven and Wauchope areas.
Laurieton Captain Les King who remained with his crew despite his home being impacted by flooding.
The Wingham crew, an accredited Community First Responder unit, who continued flood and emergency response despite being cut off by floodwaters for three days.
Firefighter Troy Unicomb also remained with his crew despite his home being impacted.
And Strike Team X-ray, along with a NSW Police officer and three members of Camden Haven Surf Life Saving Club, who saved more than 80 lives and domestic animals in the North Haven area.
FRNSW Commissioner Paul Baxter joined Member for Port Macquarie Leslie Williams for the ceremony in Port Macquarie to pay tribute to those who displayed remarkable courage during the weather event.
Commissioner Baxter praised all the recipients who had gone above and beyond to protect the irreplaceable.
"These awards acknowledge the professionalism, service and courage of our firefighters who worked under extremely difficult circumstances to help communities in their greatest time of need," he said.
Mrs Williams thanked firefighters for their dedication and work during the floods last year.
"The common thread amongst all firefighters being recognised is their selflessness and community-mindedness, and on behalf of the impacted Mid North Coast communities, I say thank you," she said.
In addition to the Flood Awards, firefighters were also presented with National Emergency Medals for their efforts in the 2019-20 Black Summer fire season.
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