Officers band together in floods
Our officers go above and beyond every day to make Queensland a safer place, and this weekend was no exception.
While none of our centres are in flood zones, several high security prisons are surrounded by areas which do flood, and this is exactly what faced officers at Southern Queensland and Woodford Correctional centres on Friday morning when they started shift.
Little did they know that some of them wouldn’t leave their centre for more than 72 hours with officers remaining at SQCC.
As the weather deteriorated and flood levels rose, officers at SQCC were given the option of going off shift early to get home safely, or stay on, knowing that they may well get flooded in.
According to General Manager, Acting Chief Superintendent Sue Burley, 26 officers, four Queensland Health staff, two kitchen trade instructors, one intel analyst and the Deputy General Manager remained at the centre to ensure the safety and security of the centre.
“Those officers have not been able to leave the centre since the commencement of their shift on Friday morning,” Ch Supt Burley said.
“Over the past 72 hours, these dedicated officers have managed to feed and medicate prisoners and maintain perimeter security and undertake flood checks without fuss.
“The 26 remaining officers performed an exceptional job completing head counts, muster, facilitating phone calls where possible, and reassuring prisoners that everything was in hand. The safety of both staff and prisoners were not compromised at any time,” A/g Supt Burley said.
As if they didn’t have enough on their plates, the officers provided assistance and shelter to a number of people who had become stranded by flood water, and assisted Queensland Fire and Emergency Services crews with two swift water rescues near the centre.
“In the midst of everything else, a prisoner required urgent medical treatment. With no way in by land, a medivac was required, and the prisoner was airlifted to hospital by helicopter.
A/g Ch Supt Burley praised the work of the officers who held the fort over the weekend.
“I am proud of SQCC and the way the team of officers banded together and carried on despite the extraordinary circumstances.
“The team have done an amazing job and remain in good spirits despite currently remaining in the centre,” Ch. Supt Burley said.
Woodford Correctional Centre was the first centre to be isolated by flood waters on Friday, with 90 officers stranded at the centre.
Due to fluctuations in the flood levels, a number of officers were able to enter and leave the centre with the assistance of Queensland Police and the SES to shepherd them safely over sodden roads as the water temporarily dropped.
On Saturday morning 62 staff rallied to Woodford police station and were met by a manager for escort into the centre. They were stood down when QPS advised the conditions had worsened to the point it was too dangerous to attempt.
The staff remaining in the centre were placed into work teams with a work structure established to reduce fatigue.
On Sunday morning, 51 staff were briefed and escorted safely by QPS into Woodford Correctional Centre, allowing some staff to go home.
Others, however, could not get home as their houses were isolated by flood water, so they remained at the centre, continuing to work.
General Manager, Acting Chief Superintendent of Woodford Correctional Centre, Stuart McHaffie praised the morale and dedication to duty both for those on duty and those attempting to relieve their colleagues.
Many individual acts of dedication and professionalism were observed throughout the event, notably those involved in providing meals to the staff and prisoners at the centre.
One of the more challenging aspects of their work was the planned release of a number of prisoners on Friday. With the centre inaccessible by road, the prisoners were escorted in a boat to safety by officers and SES volunteers.
As a part of normal operation contingencies, all centres operate with several days’ supply of food and medications in case of events such as we saw on the weekend. Each is equipped with generators to ensure power supply and have extensive water reserves.
Maryborough Correctional Centre:
Despite being impacted by the flooding, Maryborough Correctional Centre was still giving back to the community, filling sandbags for the council to protect the CBD of Maryborough as the Mary breaks its banks for the second time this season.
Prisoners and landscape officers were hard at work filling 3000 sandbags for council’s use.
This is the fifth year that prisoners have assisted local disaster management activities by filling sandbags.
Community Corrections offices:
A number of community corrections offices were affected by flooding over the weekend, including Inala and Ipswich District office and Dalby Reporting Centres. Officers banded together to remove files after it became obvious on Saturday morning the office was at risk of inundation, carrying them to safety.
Bad weather doesn’t interrupt the need to supervise high risk offenders in the community, and officers from the High Risk Offender Management Unit maintained supervision across the weekend. maintained uninterrupted supervision across the weekend.
Acting Commissioner Gary McCahon thanked all officers who were involved in managing centres and other crucial operational activities over the weekend.
“Our officers did an extraordinary job to maintain business continuity and ensure the safety and security of our centres and continue to manage offenders in the community.
“I hope they can catch up on some well-earned sleep in the coming days!” A/g Commissioner McCahon said.