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30 years of rescues and mateship

08:30am July 31 2018

Watch Tony Waller and Trevor Cracknell revisit three decades of rescues and mateship.

Tony Waller doesn’t mince his words.

“I’ve seen some things that would make the human spirit sink and then I’ve seen things that just make the human spirit fly,” Waller, a rescue crew officer with the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service, tells Westpac Wire in an interview to mark the five-year extension of the bank’s partnership with the organisation.  

Tony Waller, left, and Trevor Cracknell at the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service’s headquarters in La Perouse, Sydney. (Josh Wall)

Waller, a professional firefighter and former surf lifesaver, is one of the long-time volunteers critical to the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service, which began doing patrols on the Sydney beaches in 1973 and has since grown nationally.

"Back in 1984 I applied to be a crewman. It was as simple as a notice went up at the surf club saying they needed volunteer crew on the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service helicopter.” Out of the 120 that applied, Waller was one of four chosen.

For 32 of those years, he’s worked alongside senior crewman Trevor Cracknell, who signals complete confidence in working with Waller on everything from land to water rescues due to his skills.

The compliments are mutual.

“He’s the glue in the whole thing,” Waller says of Cracknell.

“It was about ‘86 I think Trev joined us, he had a background as a lifeguard and was an Australian swimming champion…somebody once said to me, ‘if you needed rescuing who would you want to come get you’, and that would be Trevor Cracknell.”

Cracknell has long lost count of how many rescue missions he has undertaken, but is confident it would be over a thousand. “Look, 32 years, there hasn't been a morning I’ve woken up not wanting to come into work. As long as we can keep going, we'll probably be in our 90s and we'll still be here, well that’s our plan anyway.”

Josh Wall is the Head of Video at Westpac Wire. Prior to joining the team, he spent 10 years as a video journalist and documentary filmmaker, most recently as Head of Video for the Guardian Australia. He also worked across numerous News Corp mastheads in Sydney as a presenter, producer, writer and video journalist. Josh is originally from Perth, Western Australia where he began his career by co-creating a video magazine that focused on music and the arts.

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