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Dramatic marine rescue image vies for accolade

Matthew WoodleyMidwest Times

A Jurien Bay-based volunteer marine rescue officer has been named as a finalist in the photography category for the 2016 Resilient Australia Awards.

Jason Harris was nominated for the award after he captured the dramatic moment a critical care paramedic was being winched from the RAC Rescue helicopter on to a moving VMR boat during a Department of Fire and Emergency Services training exercise in June.

The awards recognise individuals, groups or organisations that demonstrate excellence and innovation in projects that help communities be better prepared and more disaster resilient.

Mr Harris said the whole experience was exhilarating and that he was in awe of the skills of the professionals who took part.

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“It was absolutely awesome — the amount of control that pilot has over that helicopter is very impressive,” he said.

“We were bouncing around and there’s the helicopter making all this noise and spray going everywhere … it was quite a rush actually.”

Just as remarkably, as one of only three finalists, Mr Harris is an excellent chance of taking home an award he initially did not know existed.

“I was doing it mostly for the VMR group, for my own interest, and just as something unique that I wouldn’t get a chance to take pictures of again,” he said.

“It wasn’t until I sent pictures off to DFES for their library that they came back to me and told me about the contest and asked my permission to put the photo in.”

Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience director Dr John Bates said the image represented the extraordinary lengths emergency services personal went to when confronting disasters and rescue missions.

“RAC Rescue provides vital search and rescue and critical care medical services to people 24 hours a day, every day of the year,” he said.

Finalists from across Australia will gather in Melbourne tomorrow for the announcement of the winners.

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