Honour for rescuers who risked own lives

FIVE heroes who rescued people in the Lockyer Valley during the 2011 floods have been given Queensland bravery awards.

Four navy personnel who helped winch a man from floodwaters at Laidley Creek on January 11, 2011, and a man who helped the police Public Safety Response Team conduct rescue operations throughout the Lockyer Valley, have been given the awards.

Petty Officer Nicholas Edward Anderson, Chief Petty Officer Kerwyn Louis Ballico, Lieutenant Simon Paul Driessen and Commander Scott Christopher Palmer were the crew of a navy Sea King helicopter given the task of evacuating Laidley in response to the town's flash flooding.

In the process, the crew spotted a man being swept along Laidley Creek. They tried to winch him to safety. One crew member was lowered about one metre above the stranded man but couldn't grab hold of him.

As the man was swept towards a tree, the pilot of the helicopter manoeuvred the craft away, moving the crew member on the rope out of its path.

The stricken man managed to grab hold of the tree and this allowed the crewman on the rope to be lowered into the tree and connect him to a harness.

Mr Anthony James Althaus was given an award for his actions assisting a police rescue team on January 10, 2011.

That night 13 members of the Police Public Safety Response Team were deployed to the Lockyer Valley in response to the flood. In darkness, and in major storm conditions, they negotiated damaged bridges and flooded roads, where they encountered large piles of debris and downed trees and powerlines.

As they approached Grantham, they were held back by a vast expanse of high flood water.

Assisted by a council driver with a front end loader, some of the officers climbed into the bucket while others held onto the outside of the vehicle as it was driven into the water. They got out of the loader to search damaged houses and submerged vehicles for any missing or trapped people.

After the officers completed their search of Grantham, about 5am on January 11, they redeployed to Murphy's Creek and later to Postman's Ridge where they continued to search for people along creeks and rivers.

Despite a warning that further major flash flooding was likely, the officers continued their operations and found several people.

At Postman's Ridge, they conducted door-to-door checks working continuously for 24 hours.

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