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Local firefighters recognised for RPAS work

Robert Coghlan RPAS
Bundaberg's Robert Coghlan (middle) was one of 10 people to receive an Australia Day Achievement Award in the North Coast Region for his work as an RPAS operator.

Bundaberg Rural Firefighter Robert Coghlan has been recognised with a QFES Australia Day Achievement Award for performing exceptional work in his role as a Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) operator.

Robert was one of 10 people to receive an Australia Day Achievement Award in the North Coast Region at Maryborough on Tuesday 24 January.

He was joined by local Carl Kokay who was also recognised for his role in assisting the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems.

Robert is a dedicated volunteer and second officer of Calavos Rural Fire Brigade.

He joined Queensland Rural Fire Service more than a decade ago in 2011.

In recent years, Robert has taken on the role of a RPAS operator, where the use of drones helps not only find people in an emergency but can also monitor the impact of situation.

Humbled by the award Robert said he was part of the North Coast Regional RPAS team which had been kept busy during weather disaster events that impacted Maryborough and Gympie during 2022.

“I was part of the team who responded to the second large flood waters of 2022,” he said.

“I was joined by my observer Carl, who did a phenomenal job as the driver and observer.

Robert Coghlan RPAS
Bundaberg Rural Firefighters Carl Kokay and Robert Coghlan receive a QFES Australia Day Achievement Award.

“Our role was to monitor river levels and the impact of rising flood water to the community.

“We were able to send vital information immediately as the aerial footage was live streamed to the operational centre.”

Robert said RPAS use in emergency situations was becoming more common as technology improved.

“It’s an honour to be a pilot,” he said.

“I’ve been doing this for a little over 18 months now.

“The footage we are able to get during an emergency, such as the floods we attended in Maryborough and Gympie, will be used for future planning.

“As technology gets better the capabilities for the RPAS also increases.

“The future is definitely up!”