SES looks out for litter

SES Upper Blue Mountains Unit rescue officer Jim Carothers at Echo Point last Friday, getting into the spirit for Clean Up Australia Day on March 1. Photo: Michael Small/Kumbayah Photography.
SES Upper Blue Mountains Unit rescue officer Jim Carothers at Echo Point last Friday, getting into the spirit for Clean Up Australia Day on March 1. Photo: Michael Small/Kumbayah Photography.

Their volunteers are always ready to help whenever storm or flood damage strikes or a major search and rescue operation begins.

But this Sunday our region's State Emergency Service (SES) will be using its most skilled personnel to tackle what's likely to be the most challenging and strategic Clean Up Australia Day job in the country.

SES upper Blue Mountains rescue unit officer Jim Carothers said a small team of highly trained SES vertical rescue specialists will remove litter that has accumulated for years in bushland below the world famous Echo Point lookout.

Mr Carothers said the nature of the task means it has been planned in close co-operation with council and National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). Members of the public won't be able to take part and a section of the lower lookout will be cordoned off to ensure volunteers can work safely.

"Blue Mountains SES has three vertical rescue trained volunteers and they will be working on the day with two from The Hills SES and one from Parramatta SES who have kindly offered their time," Mr Carothers said.

"They'll abseil about 20 metres over the edge of the lower lookout to clean the top ledges under Echo Point from 8am and keep to two-hour shifts because the work will be quite physical and require lots of concentration.

"We'll also have volunteers working at the bottom of the cliff near the main walking track who will be putting into one cubic metre bulker bags what I imagine will be up to two tonnes of rubbish, which unfortunately has been allowed to build up there.

"The bags will be placed in a clearing and airlifted out by helicopter by the NPWS.

"They will be sorted so that items like plastics, cans and glass can be recycled."

Mr Carothers said Blue Mountains SES vertical rescue officers have done volunteer jobs on Clean Up Australia Day before, the last one a couple of years ago in steep valley slopes around the town of Yellow Rock.

"We wanted to do something for Clean Up Australia Day again, so the council gave us a list of 20 sites it identified and one of them was below Echo Point lookout.

"We chose that one, knowing it has been neglected for some time and really needs to be done.

"We're pleased to be able to help out."

Mr Carothers said Blue Mountains SES always welcomes interest from the public about volunteering opportunities and will host a recruitment drive event on March 18 from 7:30pm at Blue Mountains Emergency Services headquarters at Valley Road, Katoomba.

"Anyone who is interested in the work of the local SES or may want to become a member can come along, meet volunteers and ask us any questions."

n In another milestone for the local SES, volunteer Glen Thomson was recognised earlier this month for his 30 years of service. He was presented with a certificate by NSW Minister for Emergency Services Stuart Ayres.

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