Street poll: How do you rate emergency response services?

Emergency services responses at the time of Toowoomba’s tragic January 10 flash flood have come under scrutiny at the Toowoomba Hearings of the Queensland Floods Commission Inquiry.

Husband and father of flood victims Donna and Jordan Rice told the inquiry of his sorrow.

“I’m of the understanding that a triple-0 call is for emergency response and should be dealt with in this manner. I can’t help but ask the question if my wife and son had have connected with a different operator, would the outcome have been the same?” John Tyson said.

Transcripts of two triple-0 phone calls from Jordan Rice and his mother were made public at the hearing, although audio copies of the calls were not released.

Ms Rice made the first call, answered by operator Senior Constable Jason Wheeler, who questioned why she had driven into flood waters, took her name, location, and the make of her car, but no other details.

Ms Rice was advised to call a tow truck. She had said she had no phone credit to call a tow truck, and that there were about 10 other cars around. The operator’s response: “Yeah, no, it doesn’t matter it’s a flooded road. Bye.”

Seven minutes later Jordan Rice, 13, made a second call to the Queensland Fire and Rescue Services, and frantically asked for help.

Help was sent, but was too late to save Jordan and his mother.

Mr Wheeler said that he had not been trained to take triple-0 calls, and from his 19 years experience in the police, and local knowledge, believed that the area where the Rice’s were stranded was prone to only minor levels of flooding – “water over the road”.

Mr Wheeler described Ms Rice’s voice and demeanour as calm, indicating that she was not in imminent danger, and cited the high volume of calls as a reason for his frustration and quick decision making.

Commission examiners questioned Mr Wheeler about the minimal information he collected from the phone call. Mr Wheeler said that his memory of the phone calls that day was incomplete, due to the very high volume of calls taken.

We asked people in Brisbane’s CBD how satisfied they were with Emergency Services responses.

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