Jessica’s winning at saving lives

By Alex Gretgrix

NOT MANY women can say they spend their time rappelling from bridges or saving people from difficult situations - even if it is for training purposes.

And not many people can say they've placed in rescue competitions.

But Echuca's Jessica Pearse can.

As a part of the ISH24's team Oscar 1, a specialised branch of the CFA, she recently competed in the Victorian Mine Rescue Competition at Yallourn mine and nailed it.

And as if that wasn't an achievement enough, she was the only female on the team.

“The competition consisted of a number of categories which tested different elements of our training,” she said.

“We took part in search and rescue, fire exercises, first aid, rope exercises, skills exercises as well as a theory component. We came home with a first for search and rescue and safety, a second for first aid and third in ropes and skills, but we came second overall.

“We're just so proud of what we achieved.”

She said being the only woman in the team isn't unusual these days.

“It's pretty common to only have on or two females in a team. Having women in mining rescue isn't a big thing yet, but they're trying to build on that,” she said.

Almost straight away, Jessica made the trip to Taiwan to compete in the Chiao Rescue competition.

“In Taiwan, we spent three days completing different scenarios with different constraints and challenges,” she said.

“One day we were ascending and descending buildings and the next we were trying to reach our casualty within a certain time frame.”

Jessica believes competing in these types of competitions does have benefits.

“The good thing about these competitions is we're able practice all the skills we may have to use in real life scenarios,” she said.

Although it's rewarding, competing does come with its challenges.

“Endurance was a big thing for me. It was so hot and humid in both competitions and the scenarios go for quite some time so you're so physically and mentally exhausted, but you know you need to keep going to get this person out,” she said.

She said women need to believe they can be a part of a rescue team, it's not just a job for men like some may think.

“We just need to ignore the stereotype that only men are meant to rescue people and believe women can be a part of it too,” she said.