A Special Visit to Police Rescue & Bomb Disposal

08.08.2018

tags: NSW, Rescue, Bomb Disposal,

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In April 2018 a special meeting occurred in Sydney, brought about by the publication of the book Police Rescue & Bomb Disposal: An Extraordinary History. The book was written by APJ Assistant Editor Jason Byrnes and published to coincide with the 75thAnniversary of the NSW Police Rescue & Bomb Disposal Unit (RBDU) in late 2017. 

The Blue Mountains Gazette newspaper published a review of the book and included a photograph from a rescue that occurred on a stormy evening on Sunday 12 May 1963. The photo shows then Constable Bill Fahey of the NSW Police Rescue Squad with a very young girl tied to his back, being hauled up the side of a cliff at Mitchell Pass in the Blue Mountains (to Sydney’s west). The girl (Lorraine) and her family had been in a car that crashed over the side of the cliff. While Lorraine, her sister and mother were rescued, tragically her brother died.  

Lorraine, who still lives in the Blue Mountains area, read the story in the Gazette and saw the photo. She contacted Jason to find out more about the incident from the police’s perspective. Jason put Lorraine in touch with RBDU’s Leading Senior Constable Marcus Backway, the curator of the museum that houses many items of historic significance to Australia’s premier rescue unit. 

Almost 55 years to the day after the rescue, Lorraine and her husband Geoff visited the RBDU base to see the museum and meet with current rescue operators and bomb technicians. Of particular significance for Lorraine was seeing the large print of the photograph that is proudly displayed on an interior wall of the building. The image is one of several images from various incidents lining the walls of the base to honour RBDU’s tradition of helping others in times of danger and tragedy.

Although it brought back some sad memories, Lorraine was nevertheless thrilled with the tour, the chance to talk to police and to see how the unit’s legacy and traditions are maintained. 

Police Rescue & Bomb Disposal: An Extraordinary History can be purchased through bookshops, Big W or the publisher’s website at www.bigskypublishing.com.au. A brief history of RBDU is also in the September 2017 issue of the APJ.

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