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Alpine Policing over winter saw fewer incidences up at Hotham

Winter is a hectic time at Mount Hotham which can see over 8,000 visitors a day at the alpine resort. This winter, both local police and members from the Melbourne resource unit joined forces to patrol the mountain and keep the peace and order for guests and mountain staff.

Recently, the Alpine Policing Committee was established to look at resourcing for the alpine resorts by having resources available from Melbourne to supplement local police who over the years have acted as the main police presence during winter.

This new approach has enabled the valleys to maintain their resources instead of stretching them to provide services for the mountain during the declared winter season.

What this also means is that more police are now being trained for alpine conditions in instances of blizzards, searches and accidents, while also providing further support and control over the road.

The Police, Resort Management Board and other emergency agencies held a meeting prior to the season commencement where various issues were raised. The police supported the Resort Management Boards efforts to seek funding for the afterhours medical centre on the mountain.

Local Area Commander of Wangaratta, Kerrie Hicks said that it was great to see both areas of police working together and learning new skills.

“It is a good opportunity for our local members to work closely with members from OIU, and our local members have been able to teach them all about the alpine environment,” Ms Hicks said.

“We have been able to maintain our service delivery off-mountain, and we now have support from OIU to achieve increased capacity.

“From emergency perspective it couldn’t have been greater from Mt Hotham RMB CEO Jon Hutchins, Ski Patrol and Bill Barker with his avalanche experience.

“It’s about the shared objective for safety but also wanting business to thrive and people to do well, because it’s great for the community and ensuring that they are resilient and safer," she said.

Senior Sargent Doug Incoll said that the diversity of having police members from the resource unit and local had many positives and that the relationships with on-mountain authority services had strengthened.

“It’s been successful drawing on members from the operations response unit - who are utilised for special events and to supplement resource capability across the state of Victoria. They are trained up in all different skilled sets including the skill to work in an alpine environment,” Mr Incoll said.

“As a result, we have a larger pool of members to draw from, and upskilling and training will continue in future years to enhance their skill sets, in regard to the unique alpine environment.

This year has been a big season with the amount of snow fall, coupled with increased visitation, and we have had three incidents on the Great Alpine Road due to the unusual amount of snow we have had. We have certainly enhanced our stakeholder engagement including CFA, ambulance, SES and VicRoads and RMB.

“These relationships have always been strong, but this year has enhanced what was always a strong relationship and it is critical because of the distance and the unique environment where those relationships have forged and been maintained,” he said.

05 October 2017