‘It’s the community that suffers’: Critical road rescue equipment stolen from Upper Yarra SES

As if 2020 can’t get any worse, critical rescue equipment has been stolen from the Victorian State Emergency Service’s Upper Yarra unit depot.

Several chainsaws and a set of road rescue hydraulics, valued at $20,000 and funded by the unit through fundraising, were taken from the Warburton Highway premises at Wesburn – about 60 kilometres east of Melbourne – in the early hours of Wednesday.

Upper Yarra deputy unit controller Cam McDonald said the incident risks our volunteers’ ability to provide appropriate storm response and road rescue services during a vital time of year.

“We’re really devastated. After the year we’ve all had, it’s just a really frustrating way to end the year,” Mr McDonald said.

“Hopefully someone realises this is pretty specialist equipment and doesn’t have much broader use and they just return it.

The specialist rescue equipment is among $20,000 of equipment stolen, which was bought after local fundraising. Photo: VICSES

“Ultimately it’s the community that suffers.

“Road safety is just so important this time of year. So right now we’ll have less equipment to respond with if something happens.”

Severe thunderstorms are likely in the coming days and the festive period is notorious for road accidents.

The theft of one of only two sets of road rescue hydraulics essentially means if multiple people are trapped in a road accident, the responders can now only free one person at a time.

It is understood that the unit’s alarm system had a fault and was in the process of being replaced.

In the past 12 months, the VICSES Upper Yarra unit has responded to a total of 342 requests for assistance.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.