Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) in-water rescue teams have been presented with a prestigious international first responders’ award for saving hundreds of people during the 2021 Port Macquarie floods.

The Higgins and Langley Memorial Award, presented in the U.S. city of Indianapolis each year, has been awarded to 17 members of FRNSW’s Strike Team ‘Zulu’.

Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience and Minister for Flood Recovery Steph Cooke said the Award demonstrates that FRNSW personnel are among the world’s best.

“Over a 30 hour period our firefighters, specially trained in flood rescue skills, carried out 40 flood rescues, saving 220 people and 39 animals,” Ms Cooke said.

“No lives were lost and no firefighters were injured during this mammoth operation, which is truly a credit to their professionalism and skill.”

Member for Port Macquarie Leslie Williams said the flood event in March 2021 saw hundreds of homes inundated by the rising Hastings River and thousands more impacted by storm damage and power outages.

“If not for the professionalism, quick-thinking and bravery of these firefighters, along with the wider efforts of FRNSW and other agencies during the SES-led response, I have no doubt the floods would have resulted in tragedy,” Mrs Williams said.

FRNSW Commissioner Paul Baxter has expressed his pride in the Strike Team’s courage and commitment during the flooding event.

“The members of Strike Team ‘Zulu’ epitomised being ‘prepared for anything’ and it was no accident that they were there in the right place at the right time to rescue so many people out of harm’s way,” Commissioner Baxter said.

The Higgins and Langley Memorial Award recognises individuals, teams and first response agencies around the world that demonstrate outstanding achievements, skills and preparedness in relation to swift-water and flood rescues.

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