Milestones 1789 – 1999
- Row Boat Guard established by Governor Phillip to police Sydney Cove, rescues swimmers from the harbour.
The war years (1939 – 1945)
- Marked increase in the number of suicides from the cliffs around Sydney Harbour.
- Police rescue a workman from a ledge 10m below the top of the Gap at Watson’s Bay using a few lengths of rope.
- Police rescue an injured boy from the base of a cliff at Rosa Gully, Dover Heights.
- Brian Doyle (who later became an Assistant Police Commissioner) climbs 100m down the cliff face at Watson’s Bay to conduct a rescue.
- A rescue and demolition team set up in case of enemy attack, helps Water Police retrieve bodies from the bottom of cliffs around the harbour. The demolition team comprised of riggers from the Sydney Harbour Bridge, led by Harry Ware.
- Ware constructs a stiff leg crane for cliff rescues. Bollards to support the crane are installed in cliff tops by Vaucluse Council.
- Ware accepts invitation of Police Commissioner William Mackay to train a new rescue squad. They start work in 1942.
- Police working close to Sydney Harbour are also rostered on for cliff rescue duties.
- The new cliff rescue device is so efficient and easy to install, the rescue team receives calls from northern and southern beaches and the Blue Mountains.
- Rescue Squad members attend first motor vehicle accident, a fatal collision between a truck and a car at Taverners Hill. Special Sgt Ware and Cst Ray Tyson use ropes, hydraulic equipment ‘and common sense’ to free the trapped occupants.
- 200 men have been trained by the Cliff Rescue Squad.
- The Cliff Rescue Squad obtains a Porta Power rescue kit, which is used to rescue a driver trapped in a car from under a truck at St Peters.
- The Cliff Rescue Squad, renamed the NSW Police Rescue Squad, attends a wider range of incidents such as bushfires, floods and motor vehicle accidents. Its members search for lost hikers, attend emergencies, and operate a mobile canteen for police at major incidents.
- Police train the first ambulance personnel in light rescue.
- Special Sgt Harry Ware retires after 20 years of service.
- Wanda Beach murders: Rescue Squad members are called in to help homicide and forensic police excavate 60 tons of sand from the dunes at Cronulla, south of Sydney, looking for clues into the murder of two teenagers.
- Cyclone Tracey: Seven Rescue Squad officers are among 38 NSW Police sent to Darwin to rescue trapped people and remove bodies in the wake of the cyclone. When they arrive and the devastation becomes apparent, Rescue Squad officers are given new directions to feed police and emergency service workers from around Australia.
- Granville Train Disaster kills 82 people. Stg Joe Beacroft is one of the first Rescue Squad members to crawl into the wreckage of the train crushed under a fallen road bridge. Rescue effort lasts 37 hours.
Rescue Unit volunteer to carry out emergency tasks which are beyond the resources and capabilities of other police. They are highly trained in the use of specialist emergency equipment for the most challenging rescue tasks.
Our Rescue Unit has an international reputation for the calibre and experience of its of its personnel and the high quality and effectiveness of it equipment.