South West emergency services plea for vigilance this Easter

Community warning: Marine Rescue volunteer Jock Salkeld at Prevelly shortly after the incident at Cow Rock on Monday.
Community warning: Marine Rescue volunteer Jock Salkeld at Prevelly shortly after the incident at Cow Rock on Monday.

MARINE rescue and emergency services are pleading with the Augusta-Margaret River community to be vigilant of their surroundings this Easter.

Following the death of winemaker Simon Burnell last week and the capsizing of a boat off Cow Rock in Prevelly on Monday, this message is more relevant than ever according to Margaret River Sea Rescue volunteer Jock Salkeld.

Mr Salkeld said Margaret River Volunteer Sea Rescue was called by police to Prevelly after 10am on Monday when the 59-year-old man set off flares upon his dinghy capsizing.

“It was a near miss as he was out there by himself in a small boat,” Mr Salkeld said.

The man was rescued without further incident and taken to Margaret River Hospital.

Margaret River police officer-in-charge Sergeant Brett Cassidy said the man was found under the influence.

He was not charged as it was not illegal to drink alcohol while operating a recreational vessel, but Sergeant Cassidy encouraged others to not put themselves in a similar situation which also caused volunteers to be put at risk.

Mr Salkeld said in such an emergency it was essential to call triple zero immediately so the appropriate department can be contacted and set into motion.

“Time is crucial, really crucial,” Mr Salkeld said.

He said the volunteer group had to mobilise from their personal whereabouts to two sites where they were divided between jet skis, a water vessel and land based spotting to locate the individual(s) in need of assistance.

If the Margaret River group was unable to attend or required support, Mr Salkeld said they would have to wait for Augusta, Naturaliste or Busselton Sea Rescue to make their way along the coast.

To travel from the Gracetown rescue site to Prevelly on the Monday took 20 minutes, with Mr Salkeld reiterating that time was of the essence.

He encouraged people who witnessed an incident to react as quickly as possible so emergency services can respond in enough time to save lives.

“The reason we’re in these rescue groups is that we love doing what we do,” Mr Salked said.

“We don’t join them because we dislike doing it.”

St John Ambulance paramedic Dan Hendry echoed the Mr Salkeld’s sentiments and asked the community to be mindful of their surroundings this Easter to avoid putting themselves and their family at risk.

Sergeant Cassidy said the community needed to be mindful on the roads also in this holiday period, with fatigue being a major factor in road incidents in the last 12 months.

“You do put yourself and the community at risk,” he said.

He encouraged the community to take regular breaks while driving and warned the police would be out in force over the weekend.

With volunteer emergency services on call over the holiday, the input of these individuals into the community was appreciated

“It’s a very resilient community,” Sergeant Cassidy said.

For further information on emergency services visit the Department of Fire and Emergency Services website at

This story A plea for Margaret River to be vigilant this Easter first appeared on Augusta-Margaret River Mail.