Moving on from police rescue

Superintendent Darryl Jobson thanks Sergeant Ian Colless for his commitment to the Blue Mountains LAC at his farewell last Thursday.

Superintendent Darryl Jobson thanks Sergeant Ian Colless for his commitment to the Blue Mountains LAC at his farewell last Thursday.

Sergeant Ian Colless at the command post in Wentworth Falls during the search for Jamie Neale in 2009. Photo: Top Notch Video

Sergeant Ian Colless at the command post in Wentworth Falls during the search for Jamie Neale in 2009. Photo: Top Notch Video

Sergeant Ian Colless has been involved in some of the Mountains' highest profile search and rescue operations in his 21 years service at the Blue Mountains LAC.

For the past 12 years he has been Police Rescue's rescue co-ordinator, involved in attending and co-ordinating many search and rescue operations in the command, as well as participating in many state-wide operations.

Last Thursday he worked his final day in Springwood, before he takes up a promotion to duty officer at Rosehill LAC at Granville next week.

The 47-year-old took part in the search for Gary Tweddle last year, British backpacker Jamie Neale in 2009 and Sydney schoolboy David Iredale in 2006.

He said the search for Gary Tweddle involved the biggest deployment of emergency services and volunteers he had seen in his time in the Mountains.

Over the two-week search about 1000 people were involved, often bouncing ideas off each other during the long days.

"On the multi-dayers everyone puts in big hours," he said.

"Tweddle was memorable because the cops, volunteers and other agencies put in an amazing effort over those two weeks."

Sgt Colless said over the years there had been a lot more wins than losses, but unfortunately it was the losses, like the tragic death of David Iredale that stayed with him the most.

But cases like finding Jamie Neale alive after 12 days was a "miraculous survival story."

"We were winding back the search and obviously thought we weren't going to find him alive and then he turned up and the place went crazy," Sgt Colless recalled.

Not content to help the community in purely a search and rescue capacity, Sgt Colless is also a part-time retained or on-call firefighter.

When last year's October bushfires hit, he juggled policing duties - largely evacuating people from their homes and passing on emergency warnings - with firefighting when he was off shift.

"It was tragic to lose all those houses and a tough day for a lot of people - residents and emergency services," Sgt Colless said.

He thanked the police, rescue operators, volunteer groups, national parks and the community for their contribution to and support of search and rescue operations.

Sgt Colless' significant contribution to the community was recognised at his farewell at Blue Mountains LAC last Thursday.

Superintendent Darryl Jobson said: "Sgt Colless will be sorely missed by the command, but we are proud of his achievements and we wish him well in his new role. Reflecting on Sgt Colless' career in the Mountains, there is a common thread with respect to the compassionate connection he has made with the many people and their families in his role as rescue operator."

At the function, Chief Superintendent John Stapleton, commander of State Protection Group, honoured Sgt Colless with a commendation for professionalism and dedication to duty.

"His endeavour and achievement in this most challenging and dangerous policing environment is commendable and greatly appreciated," the commendation read.

Senior Constable Dallas Atkinson will temporarily take on the rescue co-ordinator role until the position is filled.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop