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Babcock develops workforce from within to graduate newest ACOs

Career opportunities within Babcock Australasia (Babcock) are flying high with the graduation of two Rescue Crew Officers (RCO) to Air Crew Officers (ACO) at Babcock’s Adelaide Airport Search and Rescue Base.

With the majority of ACOs recruited from the Army or Navy, Babcock recognised the need to develop its workforce from within, with Cam Fewtrell and Dominic Hodalin becoming the first RCOs to graduate as ACOs; both operating from Babcock’s Adelaide Airport base.

Babcock Mission Critical Services Chief Aircrew Officer (CACO) Matthew Dobson said it was important to support and nurture emerging talent in one of the most competitive job markets in history.

“I’m immensely proud of the fact we develop our talent pool from within and raise ACOs from our RCOs,” CACO Dobson said.

“Many organisations talk about doing it, but few see it through to fruition. At Babcock, we believe the key to an agile and proactive future workforce is investing in the workforce of today.

“By investing in our future workforce internally through ongoing training and education, we are recognising the efforts of our team and rewarding them with new opportunities.”

While an RCO goes ‘down the wire’ as a part of a rescue, an ACO runs the rescue from the cabin, operates the winch, ensures the safety of everyone in the cabin, and helps guide the helicopter pilot.

Without a background in the military, Cam Fewtrell and Dominic Hodalin faced a steep challenge to enter the highly competitive industry but took advantage of their existing skills and capitalised on Babcock’s commitment to developing its workforce.

Cam was first introduced to the search and rescue world in his hometown of Rockhampton through RACQ Capricorn Helicopter and Rescue Service (RACQ CapRescue) and immediately knew it was the job for him.

“Initially, I didn’t believe I could secure a role such as an ACO with no military experience, but to find out otherwise was exciting. I knew I had to work hard to get the skills and experience required but it has all been worthwhile,” he said.

“Planning is a key part of the ACO’s role and was drummed into us during training. Our teachers consistently asked, ‘what’s the next step?’. It is so important because if you haven’t thoroughly planned ahead, you could be rushed in emergency situations and that is when you could make mistakes.”

Dominic started as an RCO based in Brisbane in late 2015, conducting touring shifts to Rockhampton and Mackay with RACQ Central Queensland (CQ) Rescue and the RACQ CapRescue. From 2017, he was a touring RCO from Babcock’s Horn Island facility in the Torres Strait, conducting surveillance with the Australian Border Force and aeromedical and search and rescue operations for Queensland Health.

After five years of service with Babcock as an RCO, Dominic advanced to an ACO.

Dominic said despite not having a military background, he had the skills, confidence and desire to succeed in airborne emergency operations.

“Even with a military background, this is a competitive field to enter. You must be in top physical condition, a great swimmer with confidence in the water, and able to operate in some of the toughest environments, but that is why I love this job,” he said.

“You never know what you’re going to get in a day’s work, but it was always an ambition of mine to be involved in working in rescue helicopters.

“Babcock saw my potential and provided the training to get me to where I am today. I’m grateful for this opportunity to become an ACO.”

Dominic Hodalin, Air Crew Officer, Babcock.

Sam Wyld [left] (Contract & Base Manager South Australia) presenting Cameron Fewtrell [right] (Air Crew Officer) with his Babcock Adelaide patch [an unofficial patch] following his promotion from RCO to ACO.

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