AESM Vol 19, Issue 3 2020

The latest Australian Emergency Services Magazine. The latest in news from the emergency services sector and emergency management. Regular columns from Associate Professor Erin Cotter-Smith, Dr Michael Eburn and Paramedic Tammie Bullard. A look at bushfire season for this year, the dangers for police in the line of duty, uncovering exposure to natural hazards from the BNHCRC and a look at artist Daniel Sundahl and The Code 9 Foundation. In the Spotlight with Darin Sullivan and the latest travel adventure to Cairns in Emergency Breaks.

The latest Australian Emergency Services Magazine. The latest in news from the emergency services sector and emergency management. Regular columns from Associate Professor Erin Cotter-Smith, Dr Michael Eburn and Paramedic Tammie Bullard. A look at bushfire season for this year, the dangers for police in the line of duty, uncovering exposure to natural hazards from the BNHCRC and a look at artist Daniel Sundahl and The Code 9 Foundation. In the Spotlight with Darin Sullivan and the latest travel adventure to Cairns in Emergency Breaks.


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VOL <strong>19</strong>: Isssue 3, <strong>2020</strong>

We’ve got your back.<br />

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health fund that exists to enhance the physical<br />

and mental health and wellbeing of Australia’s<br />

emergency services community.<br />

We do this by providing health insurance products,<br />

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exclusively for the needs of our members.

We treat our members like colleagues.<br />

That’s because they are.<br />

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State Emergency<br />

Response &<br />

Recovery Sector<br />

We’re rallying for<br />

everybody working and<br />

volunteering to protect<br />

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Our simple products are<br />

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We’re run for the benefit<br />

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driven by corporate investors<br />

or overseas owners demanding<br />

shareholder dividends.<br />

Who Can Join?<br />

Emergency Services Health is open to people across Australia who were<br />

or are employed (including volunteering) in emergency services, and their<br />

families. Our focus on the emergency services community means we make<br />

sure we provide the most relevant products and best quality service for the<br />

lifelong health and wellbeing of our members.<br />

For more information:<br />

PHONE<br />

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EMAIL<br />

enquiries@eshealth.com.au<br />

VISIT<br />

eshealth.com.au<br />

Emergency Services Health Pty Ltd ABN 98 131 093 877



Disasters expose<br />

gaps in social<br />

media use<br />

Social media can<br />

provide invaluable<br />

and time-critical<br />

information to both<br />

emergency services and<br />

communities at risk.<br />

11<br />

“<br />



OF AN<br />



& THE CODE 9<br />


A collection of deep,<br />

personal artworks<br />

that showcase the<br />

brutal, difficult and<br />

messy beauty and<br />

incredible mateship<br />

that is the life of an<br />

emergency service<br />

worker.<br />

21<br />

“<br />


Uncovering<br />

Exposure To<br />

Natural Hazards<br />

A closer look at The<br />

Australian Exposure<br />

Information Platform<br />

(AEIP) by the BNHCRC<br />

25<br />

12 Months Since The<br />

Last Bushfire Season<br />

Began<br />

Should we expect to see<br />

the same bushfire season<br />

that we did last year? A<br />

look at why that is unlikely<br />

to happen.<br />

31<br />

17<br />

The Dangers Facing<br />

Australian Police In<br />

The Line Of Duty<br />

The horrific deaths of four<br />

Victorian police officers<br />

during seemingly routine<br />

traffic duties have brought<br />

the dangers of policing<br />

into sharp relief.<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au<br />

No Emergency<br />

Service Leave For<br />

Students<br />

Dr Michael Eburn discusses<br />

the law around granting<br />

special leave during<br />

emergencies for students<br />

who choose to volunteer in<br />

the SES<br />



• Editor’s Note<br />

4<br />

• Recent Events<br />

ESTA launches ECAN Program<br />

An expert team to lead new Fire & Rescue Service<br />

WA Surf Lifesaving Bravery Awards<br />

Emergency Services Blood Challenge<br />

• Emergency Law with Dr Michael Eburn<br />

• Let’s Talk Mental Health with A/Prof Erin Cotter- Smith<br />

• The Good, The Bad & The Ugly Paramedic<br />

• In the Spotlight - Darin Sullivan<br />

• Emergency Breaks - Cairns, Far North Queensland<br />

5<br />

6<br />

7<br />

8<br />

9<br />

15<br />

29<br />

36<br />

39<br />


<strong>AESM</strong> APP<br />

Stay connected and up<br />

to date on all the latest<br />

emergency services news<br />

on the website PLUS have<br />

access to the magazine via<br />

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Associate Professor Erin Cotter-Smith<br />

Course Coordinator of the School of<br />

Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan<br />

University. Research Consultant at The<br />

Code 9 Foundation. Well-Being Team Co-<br />

Lead, The Australian Red Cross.<br />


Dr Michael Eburn - PHD, Barrister<br />

and leading expert in law relating to<br />

emergency management & emergency<br />

services.<br />



Tammie Bullard is a paramedic and<br />

sessional lecturer based in Western<br />

Australia. Author of The Good, The Bad<br />

& The Ugly Paramedic<br />


Editorial Content<br />

press@ausemergencyservices.com.au<br />

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Suite 112, Locked Bag 1<br />

ROBINA TC, QLD 4230<br />



Each edition features a<br />

profile on a person, team,<br />

partnership, squad or unit<br />

to showcase their unique<br />

contribution to the Emergency<br />

Services industry.<br />

Explore local surrounds, or<br />

new places that are only a<br />

short plane trip or drive away,<br />

so you can maximise every<br />

minute of those days when<br />

your name doesn’t appear<br />

next to a call sign on the roster<br />

Scan Me<br />

to download the <strong>AESM</strong> App<br />


ARE THEY<br />

TRIPLE OK?<br />

We’re always there to help.<br />

Let’s make sure we help each other and ask R U OK?<br />

ruok.org.au/triple-ok<br />

3<br />



Welcome to the latest edition of the Australian<br />

Emergency Services Magazine.<br />

It is through difficult times that we all band together.<br />

Whether it be within our own family, the workplace or<br />

our community. Over this last six months we have all<br />

witnessed this coming together to help each other to<br />

the other side.<br />

From all the team at the Australian Emergency Services<br />

Magazine we would like to take this opportunity to<br />

thank our contributors and our readers for your<br />

continued support. We are all under a higher degree<br />

of uncertainty and stress so finding the time to provide<br />

articles and share your wealth of knowledge is very<br />

much appreciated.<br />

There is a great article in this edition about the artist<br />

Daniel Sundahl and The Code 9 Foundation. Daniel has<br />

put together his latest book, “Portraits of an Emergency;<br />

Chapter 3”. The Australian sales of this book go<br />

towards the incredible work that the Code 9 Foundation<br />

does to support first responders and 000 operators<br />

who live with PTSD. All the information about how to<br />

purchase this book can be found in the article. So if<br />

you can, let’s come together to support such a great<br />

foundation.<br />

Hopefully a sense of normality isnt too far away for<br />

everyone as restrictions start to lift. Let’s stay vigilant<br />

and keep our community safe.<br />

Bianca Peterson<br />

Editor in Chief<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au<br />


The Australian Emergency Services Magazine<br />

is a community educational resource<br />

publication and does not promote itself<br />

as a charity or fund raising institution, nor<br />

solicit on behalf of charities and is no way<br />

financially supported by or associated with<br />

any government or similar institution.<br />

Distribution of the publication is Bi-Monthly<br />

and is circulated via a database of interested<br />

parties, including business, subscribers,<br />

advertisers, volunteer emergency<br />

organistations, and council libraries. A<br />

print and digital magazine is distributed to a<br />

targeted database in each State & Territory.<br />

Every effort is made to ensure that material<br />

presented in the Australian Emergency<br />

Services Magazine was correct at the time of<br />

printing and is published in good faith, no<br />

responsibility or liability will be accepted by<br />

Boothbook Media.<br />

The views and opinions expressed are<br />

not necessarily those of Boothbook<br />

Media and its employees. The content of<br />

any advertising or promotional material<br />

contained within the Australian Emergency<br />

Services Magazine is not necessarily an<br />

endorsement by Boothbook Media.<br />

Published by Boothbook Media<br />

ABN:72 605 987 031<br />




We are always looking for new<br />

and relevant content that<br />

our readers will enjoy. If you<br />

would like to be featured in<br />

the magazine there are many<br />

options. You may have a story<br />

you would like to share, or<br />

perhaps be featured in our “In<br />

the Spotlight” regular column.<br />

Please submit all articles or<br />

expressions of interest to the<br />

Editor for consideration at:<br />

press@ausemergencyservices.<br />

com.au<br />

Articles should be no more than<br />

1000 words and be relevant<br />

to the content within the<br />

Australian Emergency Services<br />

Magazine.<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 4





Necessity is the mother of invention, and two ESTA<br />

team members have conceived and delivered an<br />

innovative program that decreases call-taker workload<br />

and gives callers access to up-to-date advice on the<br />

coronavirus.<br />

Despite Telstra introducing a Recorded Voice<br />

Announcement directing people to the national<br />

Covid-<strong>19</strong> help line, ambulance call-takers are still<br />

receiving calls seeking advice about the virus.<br />

Quality Improvement Manager Stephen Burgess had<br />

an idea to address this and enlisted the ingenuity of<br />

Technical Specialist Trevor Ives to turn the idea into<br />

reality.<br />

The result is a program called Emergency Caller<br />

Automatic Notification (ECAN), which was<br />

launched successfully last month.<br />

When the caller requires advice on COVID-<strong>19</strong>, the<br />

program creates a new message and forwards that<br />

advice to the caller via SMS. It directs people to the<br />

coronavirus helpline and the Department of Health<br />

and Human Services website.<br />

The service is designed for mobiles, but it can also<br />

send pre-recorded messages to callers on landlines.<br />

However, ECAN’s potential is not confined to<br />

ambulance-related activity. Features that can be<br />

enabled in the future include:<br />

• text to voice messaging to landlines<br />

• delivery of pre-recorded messages in LOTE<br />

• post-dispatch instructions for scene safety, first<br />

aid and evidence preservation<br />

• total fire ban or storm notifications<br />

• overwhelming service demand notifications.<br />

5<br />





The Victorian Government has<br />

announced a team of highly<br />

experienced fire and rescue sector<br />

executives to support inaugural Fire<br />

Rescue Commissioner Ken Block in<br />

leading Victoria’s new service – Fire<br />

Rescue Victoria (FRV) – from 1 July.<br />

The newly appointed Deputy<br />

Commissioners bring together<br />

experienced senior firefighters from<br />

the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB)<br />

and Country Fire Authority (CFA) and<br />

fire agencies from other jurisdictions,<br />

and together with Commissioner Block,<br />

will provide FRV with the executive<br />

leadership, capability and experience<br />

needed.<br />

Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM)<br />

recipient Kenneth Brown will join FRV<br />

as Deputy Commissioner in the Office<br />

of the Fire Rescue Commissioner. Mr<br />

Brown brings to the role significant<br />

experience in the fire and rescue<br />

sector and is currently MFB Acting<br />

Deputy Chief Officer, Operational<br />

Preparedness.<br />

Michelle Young AFSM has been<br />

appointed Deputy Commissioner of<br />

Fire Safety, where she will manage<br />

safety, fire investigation, alarm<br />

assessment and community resilience.<br />

Ms Young brings significant experience<br />

as a firefighter with the Queensland<br />

Fire and Emergency Services since<br />

<strong>19</strong>95, where she is currently Assistant<br />

Commissioner.<br />

David Bruce AFSM will bring the<br />

impressive leadership experience<br />

gained in his current position as Acting<br />

CEO and Chief Officer of MFB to the<br />

position as Deputy Commissioner,<br />

North-West Operations.<br />

Gavin Freeman AFSM will be Deputy<br />

Commissioner for South-East<br />

Operations, utilising his extensive<br />

experience with the Tasmania Fire<br />

Service and CFA, where he currently<br />

works as Deputy Chief Officer.<br />

Mr Freeman undertook the position<br />

of Victorian State Response Controller<br />

during the 20<strong>19</strong>-20 bushfire season.<br />

Brendan Angwin brings expert<br />

experience to FRV in the role of<br />

Deputy Commissioner for Operational<br />

Training.<br />

Martin Braid AFSM will bring more<br />

than 30 years’ experience to the<br />

role of FRV Deputy Commissioner of<br />

Strategy, where he will lead operational<br />

communications, IT, policy and<br />

planning.<br />

The appointments were made<br />

following a competitive recruitment<br />

process led by an independent<br />

executive recruitment agency. With<br />

applications open Australia wide,<br />

recruitment involved two rounds<br />

of interviews conducted with<br />

Commissioner Block and senior<br />

executives from across government<br />

and the emergency sector.<br />

All appointees will begin in their<br />

new roles on 1 July, upon the<br />

commencement of FRV as a new<br />

agency to bring together career<br />

firefighters and staff from CFA and<br />

MFB to lead fire and rescue services<br />

Melbourne and major regional centres.<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 6




BRAVERY AWARDS <strong>2020</strong><br />

Royal Life Saving Bravey Award recipients 20<strong>19</strong><br />

Each year Royal Life Saving WA’s<br />

Bravery Awards acknowledge<br />

dozens of Western Australians<br />

who have saved the lives of others,<br />

sometimes while risking their own life.<br />

Nominations for this year’s awards<br />

are currently open ahead of the<br />

annual awards event which will be<br />

held in mid-October.<br />

The Bravery Awards are designed<br />

to recognise and acknowledge the<br />

efforts of people in our community<br />

who have taken extraordinary action<br />

to save, or attempt to save, another<br />

person’s life.<br />

Previous recipients have included<br />

both children and adults, who have<br />

performed acts of bravery including<br />

in-water rescues, providing CPR<br />

or first aid or otherwise putting<br />

themselves in harm’s way to assist<br />

another person.<br />

Royal Life Saving WA CEO Peter<br />

Leaversuch says the awards are<br />

an important way to encourage<br />

community members to learn<br />

lifesaving skills. “Our annual Bravery<br />

Awards are an opportunity to<br />

showcase the efforts of members of<br />

our community who have displayed<br />

exceptional courage, empathy<br />

and initiative by applying lifesaving<br />

skills in emergency situations. The<br />

Awards are a reminder of how<br />

vitally important it is to learn how to<br />

respond in an emergency.”<br />

One of the recipients in 20<strong>19</strong> was<br />

Daniel Crook, who performed CPR<br />

for 13 minutes on his friend, Michael,<br />

who suddenly collapsed at home.<br />

Paramedics credited Daniel for<br />

saving Michael’s life, and Royal Life<br />

Saving WA presented him with a<br />

Gold Medallion Bravery Award for his<br />

efforts.<br />

This is just one example of heroism<br />

demonstrated by everyday lifesavers<br />

all over our state, and we’re<br />

encouraging Western Australians<br />

who know of someone who deserves<br />

recognition for an act of bravery to<br />

nominate them today.<br />

Individuals can be nominated<br />

for brave acts that occur in any<br />

environment and those who have<br />

demonstrated use of qualifications<br />

such as resuscitation awards, senior<br />

first aid, bronze medallion or pool<br />

lifeguard. Every action is courageous,<br />

as is the person behind the action. So<br />

why not become a part of something<br />

inspiring?<br />

Nominations can be made by anyone<br />

who has information about the<br />

incident simply by completing our<br />

online form at www.royallifesavingwa.<br />

com.au/braveryawards.<br />

Nominations close on Monday 31st<br />

August <strong>2020</strong>.<br />

7<br />



volunteer firefighter who was once<br />

A in desperate need of donor blood<br />

has called on her fellow CFA members<br />

across Victoria to get involved and<br />

donate if they are able to.<br />

The Challenge, held annually by<br />

the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood<br />

Service, runs from 1 June to 31 August,<br />

and encourages emergency service<br />

workers to join their team and donate,<br />

competing to win the challenge and<br />

more importantly, save lives.<br />

Kylie Vernados is a Firefighter at<br />

Bolinda & Monegeetta CFA and<br />

required three units of red blood cells<br />

after severe anaemia impacted her<br />

quality of life.<br />

“It was my only option for treatment,”<br />

Kylie said.<br />

“Prior to having the blood transfusion, I<br />

was really fatigued, low energy, getting<br />

short of breath when I was doing very<br />

little strenuous activity, irregular heart<br />

rates… it was stopping me from doing a<br />

lot of things that I really wanted to do.<br />

“It’s made a big, big difference.”<br />

Kylie said while not everyone is able to<br />

donate blood; it’s a great way to help<br />

others if you can.<br />

“I’d really encourage everyone who can<br />

donate to get out there and do it,” she<br />

said.<br />

“There are a lot of people like myself<br />

who can’t donate, and we’re so grateful<br />

for those who can.<br />

“You just never know when you or<br />

someone you love may need blood<br />

products, so if you can do it – please<br />

do.”<br />




You can get a spot on the podium in<br />

one of four categories:<br />

• Most donations<br />

• Most new donors<br />

• Most plasma donations<br />

• Highest year-on-year growth<br />


Lifeblood Teams brings people<br />

together to save lives – they’re made<br />

up of people, like you, who care about<br />

what’s happening in the world.<br />

Together, they’re transforming the lives<br />

of thousands of Australians.<br />

Kylie Vernados - Firefighter at Bolinda & Monegeetta CFA<br />

1, 2, 3, GIVE!<br />

• Register a blood donor account if<br />

you don’t already have one – you<br />

can register online.<br />

• Join your Lifeblood Team –<br />

just follow the step-by-step<br />

instructions on how to join a<br />

team.<br />

• Book a time to give life. Every<br />

donation you make automatically<br />

goes towards your team’s tally<br />

and the overall drive total!<br />

That’s it. You can check in on the front<br />

runners throughout the challenge and<br />

see how you measure up.<br />



It’s set to be a big one.<br />

Just give blood or plasma between 1<br />

June – 31 August to get involved.<br />

As usual, competition will be fierce, with<br />

Lifeblood Teams across the country<br />

warming up to save the most lives.<br />

Even though things are a bit different<br />

right now, Australians still need your<br />

blood and plasma donations.<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 8

AUSTRALIAN EMERGENCY LAW with Dr Michael Eburn<br />











June 15th, <strong>2020</strong><br />


Today’s correspondent is a<br />

PHD<br />

Barrister<br />

Leading expert in Law<br />

relating to Emergency<br />

Management & Emergency<br />

Services<br />

… university student in [New South Wales]…, and I’m currently in the<br />

process of joining the local SES unit. However, I had a concern about my<br />

university commitments conflicting with this volunteering. As I’m sure<br />

you know, when a student is unable to attend a class or assessment due<br />

to extenuating circumstances, they can apply for consideration towards<br />

their grade or a deferred assessment. The problem is that my university’s<br />

‘Academic Consideration Policy’ does not account for emergency<br />

service workers/volunteers (it mentions everything from military service,<br />

to work commitments, religious holidays and beyond, but there is no<br />

mention of emergency responders). Wanting to reassure myself before<br />

becoming a volunteer, I attempted to deal with this by talking to staff at<br />

the university to see if a volunteer would actually qualify for consideration.<br />

Eventually I was given the rather unconvincing answer of ‘we don’t<br />

really know; it would probably come down to the separate judgement of<br />

each subject coordinator’. Having met most of my subject coordinators,<br />

my consideration being left to their judgement with no guidance from<br />

formal policies is a little alarming. Suppose there is a large flood I have<br />

to attend during an exam time, or something similar?<br />

Follow Michael Eburn<br />

Facebook- facebook.com/<br />

EburnM/<br />

Twitter - @EburnM<br />

For his latest articles on<br />

Emergency Law go to:<br />

www.emergencylaw.wordpress.com<br />

Getting to the heart of my question;<br />

is a university obligated by law to<br />

make allowances for students that are<br />

involved in emergency volunteering?<br />

I have searched briefly through some<br />

legislation myself and found protections<br />

in the Fair Work Act for employees that<br />

volunteer during emergencies, but I<br />

can’t find any mention of students.<br />

The short answer, and pretty much<br />

the long answer too, is ‘no, a university<br />

is not obligated by law to make<br />

allowances for students that are<br />

involved in emergency volunteering’.<br />

After that sort of opening statement, I<br />

would usually go onto explore ‘the law’<br />

but given there is no legal obligation<br />

of that sort, there is no law to cite. As<br />

my correspondent has noted there are<br />

protections for employees but not for<br />

students.<br />

But I’ll wander out of my ‘lane’ for a<br />

minute. As a university academic I am<br />

aware that all universities have a special<br />

consideration/deferred assessment<br />

policy. Special consideration has<br />

always confused me; I’m never sure<br />

what to do with it. A student submits<br />

work, you assess it, how can you then<br />

give a higher mark on the basis that<br />

they may have produced a different<br />

result in different circumstances. The<br />

transcript does not say ‘Distinction

(well not really but it might have been)’.<br />

But there were circumstances were a<br />

student did have say Distinction results<br />

throughout the semester except for<br />

the one affected assessment task and<br />

their final result was one mark off a<br />

Distinction so you would rely on the<br />

‘special circumstances’ to push them<br />

over. I’m sure most academics would<br />

by sympathetic particularly as they live<br />

in the same community and will be<br />

aware of local floods or significant ones<br />

requiring out of area assistance.<br />

Deferred assessment is always<br />

problematic. Students putting off<br />

their exams from say November to<br />

the ‘special exam period’ in January or<br />

February never really do themselves<br />

any favours.<br />

With my academic hat on, I’d be<br />

confident to say ‘I’m sure your teachers<br />

will give whatever lee way they can, but<br />

their options are limited and if results<br />

are important, put your best foot<br />

forward’.<br />

Putting on a different hat, this time as<br />

someone who’s been involved, one<br />

way or another, with the volunteer<br />

emergency services since I was 13 and<br />

during my university studies, I don’t<br />

think you will find any service, or any<br />

unit controller, that doesn’t say ‘put<br />

your family, job and studies first’.<br />

The question ‘Suppose there is a<br />

large flood I have to attend during<br />

an exam time, or something similar?’<br />

demonstrates a misunderstanding of<br />

the concept of volunteering. If there<br />

is a large flood, or something similar,<br />

a volunteer does not ‘have’ to attend,<br />

they attend if they can. And one of the<br />

factors that determines whether they<br />

can is other commitments such as<br />

exams. University students may not be<br />

able to respond during exam time but<br />

may have more availability than others<br />

during the summer break (if that still<br />

exists and the university hasn’t moved<br />

to Trimesters). And units located near<br />

universities that draw on students know<br />

that and should accommodate that.<br />

I would urge my correspondent to<br />

discuss the matter with his or her local<br />

unit leader. I’m sure any of them would<br />

say ‘if you can’t come due to exams,<br />

that’s fine’.<br />

Photo: Department of Fire and Emergency Services WA.<br />

Conclusion<br />

As I said, the last two observations are<br />

outside my proper scope of reporting<br />

on the law. The legal answer is ‘a<br />

university is not obligated by law to<br />

make allowances for students that are<br />

involved in emergency volunteering’.<br />

This article originally appeared on the<br />

blog Australian Emergency Law (https://<br />

emergencylaw.wordpress.com/) and is reproduced<br />

with the permission of the author.<br />

As a blog post it represents the author’s opinion<br />

based on the law at the time it was written. The<br />

blog, or this article, is not legal advice and cannot be<br />

relied upon to determine any person’s legal position.<br />

How the law applies to any specific situation or<br />

event depends on all the circumstances.<br />

If you need to determine legal rights and obligations<br />

with respect to any event that has happened, or<br />

some action that is proposed, you must consult<br />

a lawyer for advice based on the particular<br />

circumstances. Trade unions, professional<br />

indemnity insurers and community legal centres can<br />

all be a source for initial legal advice.<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 10




11<br />


Australia has borne the brunt<br />

of several major disasters in<br />

recent years, including drought,<br />

bushfires, floods and cyclones. The<br />

increasing use of social media is<br />

changing how we prepare for and<br />

respond to these disasters. Not only<br />

emergency services but also their<br />

social media are now much-soughtafter<br />

sources of disaster information<br />

and warnings.<br />

We studied Australian emergency<br />

services’ social media use in times<br />

of disaster. Social media can<br />

provide invaluable and time-critical<br />

information to both emergency<br />

services and communities at risk. But<br />

we also found problems.<br />



The 20<strong>19</strong>-20 Australian bushfires<br />

affected 80% of the population<br />

directly or indirectly. Social media<br />

were widely used to spread<br />

awareness of the bushfire disaster<br />

and to raise funds – albeit sometimes<br />

controversially – to help people in<br />

need.<br />

The escalating use and importance of<br />

social media in disaster management<br />

raises an important question:<br />

How effective are social media<br />

pages of Australian state emergency<br />

management organisations in<br />

meeting community expectations and<br />

needs?<br />

To answer this question, QUT’s<br />

Urban Studies Lab investigated the<br />

community engagement approaches<br />

of social media pages maintained<br />

by various Australian emergency<br />

services. We placed Facebook and<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 12

Twitter pages of New South Wales State Emergency<br />

Services (NSW-SES), Victoria State Emergency Services<br />

(VIC-SES) and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services<br />

(QLD-FES) under the microscope.<br />

Our study made four key findings.<br />

First, emergency services’ social media pages are intended<br />

to:<br />

• disseminate warnings<br />

• provide an alternative communication channel<br />

• receive rescue and recovery requests<br />

• collect information about the public’s experiences<br />

• raise disaster awareness<br />

• build collective intelligence<br />

• encourage volunteerism<br />

• express gratitude to emergency service staff and<br />

volunteers<br />

• raise funds for those in need.<br />

Examples of emergency services’ social media posts are<br />

shown below.<br />

Second, Facebook pages of emergency services attract<br />

more community attention than Twitter pages. Services<br />

need to make their Twitter pages more attractive<br />

as, unlike Facebook, Twitter allows streamlined data<br />

download for social media analytics. A widely used Twitter<br />

page of emergency service means more data for analysis<br />

and potentially more accurate policies and actions.<br />

Third, Australia lacks a legal framework for the use of<br />

social media in emergency service operations. Developing<br />

these frameworks will help organisations maximise its<br />

use, especially in the case of financial matters such as<br />

donations.<br />

Fourth, the credibility of public-generated information<br />

can sometimes be questionable. Authorities need to be<br />

able to respond rapidly to such information to avoid the<br />

spread of misinformation or “fake news” on social media.<br />


Our research highlighted that emergency services could<br />

use social media more effectively. We do not see these<br />

services analysing social media data to inform their<br />

activities before, during and after disasters.<br />

13<br />


In another study on the use of social media analytics for<br />

disaster management, we developed a novel approach<br />

to show how emergency services can identify disasteraffected<br />

areas using real-time social media data. For that<br />

study, we collected Twitter data with location information<br />

on the 2010-11 Queensland floods. We were able to<br />

identify disaster severity by analysing the emotional or<br />

sentiment values of tweets.<br />

This work generated the disaster severity map show<br />

below. The map is over 90% accurate to actual figures<br />

in the report of the Queensland Floods Commission of<br />

Inquiry.<br />

Another concern is difficulty in receiving social media<br />

messages from severely affected areas. For instance, the<br />

disaster might have brought down internet or 4G/5G<br />

coverage, or people might have been evacuated from<br />

areas at risk. This might lead to limited social media posts<br />

from the actual disaster zone, with increasing numbers of<br />

posts from the places people are relocated.<br />

In such a scenario, alternative social media analytics are<br />

on offer. We can use content analysis and sentiment<br />

analysis to determine the disaster location and impact.<br />


Social media and its applications are generating new and<br />

innovative ways to manage disasters and reduce their<br />

impacts. These include:<br />



The first highly voiced concern about social media use in<br />

disaster management is the digital divide. While the issue<br />

of underrepresented people and communities remains<br />

important, the use of technology is spreading widely.<br />

There were 3.4 billion social media users worldwide in<br />

20<strong>19</strong>, and the growth in numbers is accelerating.<br />

Besides, many Australian cities and towns are investing in<br />

smart city strategies and infrastructures. These localities<br />

provide free public Wi-Fi connections. And almost 90% of<br />

Australians now own a smart phone.<br />

The second concern is information accuracy or “fake<br />

news” on social media. Evidently, sharing false information<br />

and rumours compromises the information social media<br />

provides. Social media images and videos tagged with<br />

location information can provide more reliable, eyewitness<br />

information.<br />

increasing community trust in emergency services by<br />

social media profiling<br />

crowd-sourcing the collection and sharing of disaster<br />

information<br />

creating awareness by incorporating gamification<br />

applications in social media<br />

using social media data to detect disaster intensity and<br />

hotspot locations<br />

running real-time data analytics.<br />

In sum, social media could become a mainstream<br />

information provider for disaster management. The need<br />

is likely to become more pressing as human-induced<br />

climate change increases the severity and frequency of<br />

disasters.<br />

Today, as we confront the COVID-<strong>19</strong> pandemic, social<br />

media analytics are helping to ease its impacts. Artificial<br />

intelligence (AI) technologies are greatly reducing<br />

processing time for social media analytics. We believe the<br />

next-generation AI will enable us to undertake real-time<br />

social media analytics more accurately.<br />

Tan Yigitcanlar<br />

Associate Professor of<br />

Urban Studies and Planning,<br />

Queensland University of Technology<br />

Nayomi Kankanamge<br />

PhD Candidate,<br />

School of Built Environment,<br />

Queensland University of Technology<br />

Ashantha Goonetilleke<br />

Professor,<br />

Queensland University of Technology<br />

This article was first published on<br />

“The Conversation<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 14

Lets Talk Mental<br />

Health<br />

with Associate Professor<br />

Erin Cotter-Smith<br />


COVID-<strong>19</strong> CHALLENGE<br />

Even before the COVID-<strong>19</strong><br />

coronavirus pandemic diverted our<br />

attention away from the bushfires<br />

that devastated much of Australia<br />

in early <strong>2020</strong>, our infrastructure for<br />

protecting mental health and wellbeing<br />

– especially for our emergency<br />

service personnel – was fragmented,<br />

overburdened, and underperforming.<br />

Now, coronavirus has put even more<br />

stress on that broken system.<br />

In Australia, mental health and<br />

substance use disorders were<br />

estimated to be responsible for<br />

12% of the total burden of disease<br />

in 2015, placing it fourth as a broad<br />

disease group after cancer (18%),<br />

cardiovascular diseases (14%) and<br />

musculoskeletal conditions (13%).<br />

In terms of the non-fatal burden of<br />

disease, which is a measure of the<br />

number of years of ’healthy life lost’<br />

due to living with a disability, mental<br />

health and substance use disorders<br />

was the second largest contributor<br />

in Australia behind musculoskeletal<br />

conditions.<br />

While all population groups are<br />

affected, this crisis is especially difficult<br />

for those on the frontline of the<br />

pandemic.<br />

Research shows our first responders<br />

are more likely to be diagnosed with<br />

a mental health condition than the<br />

overall Australian population. They are<br />

more than twice as likely to think about<br />

suicide, and three times as likely to<br />

have a suicide plan.<br />

This paints a grim picture of the wellbeing<br />

of a population who dedicate<br />

their professional lives to helping<br />

others and highlights the need for<br />

mental health support programs<br />

to ‘reach in’ rather than expecting<br />

emergency service personnel in crisis<br />

to ‘reach out’.<br />

COVID-<strong>19</strong> AND THE GROWING MENTAL<br />


We know the virus is having a deadly<br />

impact on the human body, with<br />

nearly seven million cases and around<br />

400,000 deaths globally as of early June<br />

<strong>2020</strong>.<br />

But its impact on mental health may be<br />

deadly too.<br />

Some recent projections suggest that<br />

deaths stemming from mental health<br />

issues could rival the number of deaths<br />

directly due to the virus. One study<br />

estimates that anywhere from 27,644<br />

to 154,037 additional deaths may occur<br />

in the United States due to the impact<br />

of the pandemic on mental health,<br />

driving up the number of suicides and<br />

drug overdoses.<br />


CURVE’ TOO…<br />

While Australia has been widely<br />

praised for its success in flattening the<br />

disease curve, we now need to focus<br />

our attention on flattening the ‘other<br />

curve’ – the mental health impact of the<br />

COVID-<strong>19</strong> pandemic.<br />

But how do we flatten the mental<br />

health curve?<br />

There is a comprehensive evidencebase<br />

supporting traditional approaches<br />

for treating and preventing anxiety,<br />

depression and suicide. But many of<br />

these are inadequate for the task at<br />

hand and may be difficult to access<br />

in person with physical distancing<br />

restrictions and concerns regarding<br />

community transmission of the virus.<br />

For people trying to access treatment,<br />

the doors of many community mentalhealth<br />

centers are closed. For those<br />

with both mental health conditions and<br />

COVID-<strong>19</strong>, including a large number<br />

who are homeless, no care is available,<br />

and they are at risk of exposing others.<br />

15<br />


Further complicating matters is the<br />

interruption to vital support networks<br />

of friends and family that comes with<br />

social distancing and enforced public<br />

health restrictions. These networks<br />

and social bonds would ordinarily<br />

allow people to cope with crisis. Now<br />

they are – if not damaged – perhaps<br />

completely severed.<br />



It is clear, that in response to the<br />

pandemic, the way that we delivery<br />

mental healthcare must change.<br />

As a priority, mental health needs<br />

to be accessible to all Australians<br />

remotely.<br />

Traditional “in-person” approaches<br />

– like individual or group face-toface<br />

sessions with a mental health<br />

professional – are currently not<br />

a viable option for many in the<br />

population. And with the everescalating<br />

number of people<br />

needing mental health support,<br />

face-to-face approaches may<br />

never meet the current<br />

demand.<br />

Telehealth sessions are<br />

part of the answer.<br />

However, they are not<br />

the total solution.<br />

Methods for nontraditional<br />

mental<br />

healthcare delivery<br />

must be explored in<br />

order to meet the<br />

rest of the growing<br />

demand during and<br />

after the COVID-<strong>19</strong><br />

pandemic.<br />

This doesn’t<br />

require us to<br />

completely<br />

re-invent<br />

the wheel,<br />

but asks us<br />

to better utilise<br />

some of the existing<br />

resources that are<br />

already available.<br />

For example,<br />

freely available<br />

online courses<br />

on mindfulness<br />

and podcasts from<br />

organisations that<br />

support health and well-being,<br />

including these from The Code 9<br />

Foundation, Beyond Blue, and the<br />

Black Dog Institute, are important<br />

supplementary tools that people can<br />

use as part of an overall approach to<br />

protecting mental health.<br />



One important lesson that has been<br />

re-emphasised by COVID-<strong>19</strong> is the<br />

need to be more proactive when<br />

it comes to protecting the mental<br />

health and well-being of Australians.<br />

Reactive approaches that fail to<br />

promote mental health at the<br />

population level and where initiatives<br />

tend to focus exclusively on the<br />

individuals who reach out and seek<br />

treatment are destined to continue<br />

under-serving the broader population<br />

in need.<br />

And there is good evidence that<br />

many proactive, population-based<br />

approaches improve mental health<br />

– things like engaging in physical<br />

Associate Professor<br />

Erin Cotter-Smith<br />

PhD, MPH, MClinEpi<br />

Course Coordinator<br />

Edith Cowan University<br />

Research Consultant<br />

The Code 9 Foundation<br />

activity, getting enough<br />

sleep, and making time for<br />

self-care. Many of these<br />

things are still easy to<br />

achieve during the<br />

pandemic – and are<br />

mostly free!<br />



CURE<br />

And while<br />

experts are<br />

hopeful that a<br />

vaccine against<br />

the SARS-<br />

CoV-2 virus will<br />

be available<br />

sooner rather<br />

than later,<br />

a vaccine will<br />

not solve all of<br />

the problems<br />

associated with the<br />

pandemic.<br />

COVID-<strong>19</strong> has revealed<br />

the inadequacies of the<br />

old mental health paradigm<br />

– shining a spotlight on the<br />

changes that are needed now.<br />

In fact, many may argue that<br />

these changes are, in fact, long<br />







The horrific deaths of four Victorian police officers during<br />

seemingly routine traffic duties have brought the dangers of<br />

policing into sharp relief.<br />

There are many threats to officers while they carry out their<br />

duties, some more extreme than others. In a declaration about<br />

the seriousness and risk of spitting, and just how common it<br />

is, states and territories have introduced additional laws (aside<br />

from common assault) to deal with people deliberately spitting,<br />

sneezing and coughing on police and other essential services<br />

personnel.<br />

So, exactly how are our officers sustaining injuries and other<br />

medical conditions, and how often are officers dying in the line of<br />

duty?<br />

The National Police Memorial honour roll commemorates<br />

Australian police officers who have been killed or died while<br />

on duty in recognition of their contribution to the Australian<br />

community. An examination of these fatalities from the past two<br />

decades provides some revealing insights.<br />

There were 51 officer fatalities in Australia between 2000 and<br />

20<strong>19</strong>, an average of two to three a year. Until the recent deaths in<br />

Victoria, there has not been so many deaths in Australia in a single

year since the deaths of five officers<br />

in 2005. However, those fatalities<br />

were all separate incidents. Sadly, in<br />

2001, four officers died in the same<br />

plane crash.<br />

Officer fatalities have three main<br />

causes: accidents, assaults and<br />

health-related incidents. Similar<br />

to the recent Victorian fatalities,<br />

Australian police officers mostly died<br />

due to accidents (65% of all police<br />

fatalities), with road accidents being<br />

the leading cause.<br />

These deaths tend to occur during<br />

seemingly low-risk activities such as<br />

general duties patrols. Most of these<br />

accidents involve motor vehicles<br />

(55%), while 21% involve motorcycles.<br />

However, as previously mentioned,<br />

there have been plane crashes<br />

(21%) and there was one accidental<br />

shooting.<br />

It is notable that the number of<br />

overall officer fatalities decreased<br />

substantially after 2007. Before<br />

2008, there was an average of 4.5<br />

police deaths per year. But from<br />

2008 onwards, the average fell to<br />

1.25 deaths per year. This decrease<br />

is mostly due to the decrease in<br />

accidents, which dropped from an<br />

average of 3.25 per year to just 0.58<br />

per year.<br />

So what changed? This decrease<br />

might be explained by technological<br />

advances and changes to practices.<br />

For example, the Australian Design<br />

Rules changed motor vehicle safety<br />

standards to increase the safety of<br />

airbags in 2006.<br />

Also, police forces adopted more<br />

helicopters into their fleets. The use<br />

of helicopters for police pursuits may<br />

reduce the necessity for officers to<br />

engage in high-risk vehicle pursuits,<br />

and therefore decrease the number<br />

of accidents.<br />

Finally, an inquest into the death<br />

of Senior Constable Peter Wilson<br />

led to changes to roadside policing<br />

practices, which may also have<br />

contributed to the decrease in<br />

fatalities.<br />

However, officers face not only<br />

accidents, but also assaults and<br />

homicides – not typically faced in<br />

most other occupations. In the past<br />

two decades, there were 14 assaults<br />

on police. While these were almost<br />

always shootings (11 of the 14 cases),<br />

in one incident the driver of a stolen<br />

vehicle purposefully swerved to hit an<br />

officer.<br />

Furthermore, the stressful and<br />

physical nature of policing can lead to<br />

health-related fatalities. While mental<br />

health fatalities, such as suicide, are<br />

not included in the data, physical<br />

health-related incidents are included.<br />

Over the past 20 years, four officers<br />

have died due to health-related<br />

matters while on duty. Three of these<br />

cases involved a cardiovascular event<br />

such as a heart attack during training.<br />

In the fourth case an officer died<br />

from a respiratory illness.<br />

<br />

_<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<strong>19</strong><br />


This last fatality highlights current<br />

concerns during these coronavirus<br />

times. While the cause of this officer’s<br />

death is unknown, there are strong<br />

concerns for the safety of our officers<br />

who we rely upon in times of crisis<br />

and to protect our community.<br />

Indeed, a recent study of significant<br />

events in Queensland found almost<br />

half (44%) of the officers involved in<br />

these events reported sustaining an<br />

injury. These mostly involved officers<br />

being spat on or bitten (36% of<br />

injuries reported). This is concerning<br />

because of the risk of viral infections<br />

(all these officers required testing for<br />

infection) and work-related anxiety.<br />

The study argues these types of<br />

attacks are indicative of opportunistic<br />

assaults; that is, the offender takes<br />

advantage of the situation and<br />

attacks an officer. Furthermore, being<br />

spat on is often viewed as insulting<br />

and disgusting, which may cause<br />

negative reactions from police and<br />

society.<br />

These figures only include the<br />

physical dangers of policing and do<br />

not include the mental toll on our<br />

officers. Tragic recent events have<br />

highlighted the high-risk nature<br />

of policing and the need to better<br />

understand the dangers involved in<br />

order to protect our officers from<br />

harm so they can protect us during<br />

times of crisis.<br />

Author:<br />

Kelly Hine<br />

Lecturer in Criminology,<br />

Australian National University<br />

This article was first published on<br />

“The Conversation”<br />

Kadia<br />

is an Occupational<br />

Therapy practice supporting<br />

the Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne.<br />

We are dedicated to helping our clients<br />

0400 121 513<br />

accomplish their goals in living with a disability<br />

daniel@kadia.com.au<br />

because everyone deserves a chance to create. 5 Foulds Ct, Montrose Vic 3765<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 20

Finding Peace





Words: Brooke Turnbull<br />

Daniel Sundahl has spent his life doing a variety<br />

of different things that eventually led him to<br />

becoming an artist.<br />

Working as both a paramedic and a fire fighter<br />

in Canada, he knows all too well the weight that<br />

emergency service workers wear every day. It is that<br />

knowledge that allows him to create the artworks<br />

that he does. Realistic, hyper photographic pieces<br />

that stick with the viewer long after you’ve stopped<br />

looking at them.<br />

“Burden” was the first Dan Sundahl piece I saw<br />

when researching this article, and it struck me as<br />

so important. I paused on the image and fully took<br />

in the meaning behind the artwork of the Canadian<br />

Mounty, his head hung low, his hands clasped as if<br />

in prayer, the dark engulfing him. The worry of all<br />

emergency service personnel etched into every facet<br />

of the piece, the burden they bear for all of us every<br />

day.<br />

However, it’s not just the effects of what emergency<br />

workers see every day that burdens them. When<br />

describing the piece, Daniel succinctly delivers the<br />

message of “Burden” and how relevant it is for police<br />

services around the world, right now

“This isn’t about being rewarded for<br />

what we do, it’s about realising the<br />

burden and pressure we’re under<br />

to be perfect 100% of the time. I<br />

guess when lives matter nothing<br />

less than 100% can be tolerated but<br />

not everything is a life and death<br />

decision.”<br />

While in isolation over the Covid-<strong>19</strong><br />

situation, Daniel formulated the<br />

idea of the Covid-<strong>19</strong> selfie project.<br />

The piece is a collection of hundreds<br />

of selfies Daniel has painted of<br />

the many hospital and emergency<br />

service workers who have been on<br />

the frontline while the pandemic<br />

crisis has been unfolding. It’s<br />

dedicated to those workers who<br />

have contracted the virus as a direct<br />

result of treating patients.<br />

The piece is obviously close to<br />

Daniel’s heart, and while many of us<br />

have been negatively impacted by<br />

the Coronavirus pandemic, many of<br />

these frontline emergency workers<br />

have lost their lives. It’s a thought<br />

that bears remembering and one<br />

that Daniel is championing with this<br />

piece.<br />

“Many emergency workers have<br />

lost their lives fighting this virus<br />

and I hope one day they will be<br />

remembered and honoured for<br />

their sacrifice in some way. Part of<br />

the reason I created the Covid-<strong>19</strong><br />

Selfie project is that I hope this<br />

will be a historical document that<br />

will remind people of this time in<br />

emergency services history. I’m<br />

worried the sacrifices that have<br />

been made may be forgotten.”<br />

Because of this, Daniel offers a free<br />

download of this piece so these<br />

brave men and women can be<br />

remembered for their outstanding,<br />

unflappable and persistent work for<br />

our continued health.<br />

When exploring the current state<br />

of events that have impacted not<br />

just hospital services but the police<br />

services, we touch on the messages<br />

of vitriol that many police officers<br />

have experienced over the last few<br />

months for the terrible actions of<br />

a few. He has clear ideas about<br />

how we should be moving forward<br />

with the important issues that the<br />

current events have raised,<br />

“The vast majority of police operate<br />

within their protocols and I think<br />

it terrible that all police are being<br />

grouped together and being held<br />

accountable. Of course, I feel the<br />

officers that have used unnecessary<br />

force and intimidation should be<br />

reprimanded and in the cases<br />

where people have been killed<br />

those officers should be in jail, if<br />

found guilty. The idea of defunding<br />

the police is very dangerous in my<br />

opinion. Diverting money to training<br />

may be a better solution.”<br />

It’s an important conversation to<br />

be recognised and the constant<br />

pressure of both outside and<br />

internal review for all emergency<br />

service workers impacts mental<br />

health like nothing else.<br />

Daniel’s passion, along with his own<br />

struggles with mental health, has<br />

steered him to a partnership with<br />

The Code 9 Foundation, one that he<br />

is extremely proud of.<br />

The Code 9 Foundation hosted<br />

Daniel’s trip to Australia in 20<strong>19</strong> and<br />

gave him the opportunity to speak<br />

to many of his Australian peers<br />

about Post Traumatic Growth that<br />

included his own mental health<br />

journey of recovery and resiliency.<br />

He speaks articulately about how<br />

his art has assisted him in his<br />

recovery. When asked if his art is a<br />

catharsis, he likens the experience<br />

to an uninvited organic monster,<br />

“Each image is based on an<br />

experience or emotion I’ve had<br />

from being a full-time firefighter<br />

and paramedic. When I create an<br />

art piece I purge that monster from<br />

my mind and capture it into a one<br />

dimensional image. The process<br />

takes about a week and while I work<br />

on the image I try to recreate what I<br />

felt instead of what I saw. The process<br />

is very emotional and cathartic for<br />

me.”<br />

It makes the viewing of the images<br />

that much more powerful. Going<br />

back for several more looks at his<br />

work on his website they take on<br />

a new meaning knowing that each<br />

image is so personal, raw and<br />

something that actually happened to<br />

a human being.<br />

It’s something that people who<br />

don’t have personal experience<br />

being in the emergency services<br />

can sometimes find impossible to<br />

understand. This is where the good<br />

work that The Code 9 Foundation<br />

does really comes into play.<br />

The Foundation understands that<br />

it’s hard to talk to family members<br />

or friends that aren’t in the job,<br />

that don’t walk the beat, that don’t<br />

risk their lives fighting fires, or<br />

facing monsters, both physical and<br />

metaphorical, daily. They offer a safe<br />

space for individuals who do deal<br />

with these issues to speak freely and<br />

without judgement.<br />


In addition, The Code 9 Foundation<br />

offers services for partners and family<br />

members to assist in understanding<br />

the mental health struggles that<br />

come from the pressures of a job<br />

many of us couldn’t imagine doing<br />

every day of our lives. Something<br />

that these everyday heroes just deal<br />

with, with no complaint.<br />

It’s no wonder Daniel Sundahl is so<br />

proud to be working with The Code<br />

9 Foundation and helping to support<br />

their mental health initiatives. Not<br />

only do they offer peer support for<br />

members and their partners, but<br />

raising money for Assistance Dogs<br />

Australia (along with the sponsorship<br />

of their first Assistance Dog, Codey),<br />

is a project at the heart of Code 9.<br />

You can follow Codey’s journey on<br />

Facebook.<br />

The Code 9 Foundation have also<br />

formulated specific webinars that are<br />

targeted at first responders and their<br />

psychological wellbeing, as well as<br />

mental health first aid courses that<br />

assist emergency service workers<br />

with how to identify and be aware of<br />

their symptoms.<br />

The Code 9 Foundation website is a<br />

plethora of information for members<br />

and first responders looking for help.<br />

Daniel has partnered with The Code<br />

9 Foundation through the sale of his<br />

latest book in Australia. This is Dan’s<br />

third book, “Portraits of Emergency<br />

- Chapter 3”. A collection of deep,<br />

personal artworks that showcase the<br />

brutal, difficult and messy beauty and<br />

incredible mateship that is the life of<br />

an emergency service worker.<br />

The proceeds of this book will go<br />

towards all the incredible work<br />

that the Code 9 Foundation does<br />

to ensure their members and first<br />

responders are looked after, after<br />

they’ve finished looking after us.<br />

Daniel is rightfully proud of this<br />

collection and the message is, like the<br />

book itself, a deeply personal look at<br />

his experiences and his passion for<br />

sharing it with other first responders<br />

who can relate with the struggle,<br />

“I think one of the reasons the book is<br />

helpful is that it shows that we’re not<br />

alone in the experiences or emotions<br />

we have in emergency services. For<br />

me, when I was going through my<br />

recovery, knowing that I wasn’t crazy,<br />

that the way I felt was more normal<br />

than abnormal, really helped me<br />

reset my perspectives which was<br />

instrumental in my recovery.”<br />

To support both The Code 9<br />

Foundation and Daniel Sundahl,<br />

you can purchase Daniel Sundahl’s<br />

third book “Portraits of Emergency<br />

- Chapter 3” by sending an email to<br />

info@code9ptsd.org.au with your<br />

name, order quantity and address.<br />

The Cost is $90 per unit which<br />

includes postage and handling. This<br />

can be paid via a paypal account. The<br />

Code 9 Foundation will provide you<br />

with a link.<br />

You can also view all of Daniel’s<br />

powerful images on his website www.<br />

dansunphotos.com<br />

Should you wish to support the Code<br />

9 Foundation’s initiatives for mental<br />

health services for first responders or<br />

if you are feeling personally impacted<br />

by mental health issues, you can<br />

visit their website at https://www.<br />

code9ptsd.org.au.<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 24



As Australian communities recover from one natural<br />

hazard and prepare for the next one, there are important<br />

questions to ask about which areas are most exposed to<br />

possible loss of life, landscape and property.<br />



The Australian Exposure Information Platform helps government, industry and research agencies understand what is exposed in an area, to inform better decisions before, during<br />

and after emergencies. Credit: Bushfire & Natural Hazards CRC<br />

We need to understand which of our<br />

people, buildings, business, public<br />

facilities, infrastructure, agricultural<br />

areas and natural landscapes are<br />

exposed to any natural hazard, as<br />

well as human-induced disasters<br />

and structural failures. A clearer<br />

understanding of this exposure is a<br />

highly valuable starting point for any<br />

sector that is required to prepare for<br />

and respond to hazards, both in the<br />

response and warnings phase, but<br />

also in mitigation.<br />

The Australian Exposure Information<br />

Platform (AEIP) is an online platform<br />

that provides an accessible snapshot<br />

of all assets within a specified area, in<br />

the form of a customised ‘exposure<br />

report’.<br />

It was designed through a partnership<br />

between the Bushfire and Natural<br />

Hazards CRC, Geoscience Australia,<br />

University of Melbourne, University<br />

of Canberra and emergency<br />

management organisations.<br />

on demand at any scale,” Rose told<br />

commissioners.<br />

Lead CRC researcher, Mark Dunford<br />

from Geoscience Australia, says that<br />

these exposure reports provide a<br />

new, quick way of accessing important<br />

information that can be used for<br />

mitigation and operational decision<br />

making for any hazard at any time<br />

within any specified area. This is<br />

essential information that helps<br />

improve safety, save lives and reduce<br />

damage to property and natural<br />

landscapes, and can be used not only<br />

by emergency management, but also<br />

researchers, town planners or anyone<br />

else who’s interested.<br />

“For the first time, everyone has direct<br />

24/7 access to nationally consistent<br />

exposure information anywhere in<br />

Australia, through a user-driven, ondemand<br />

interface,” he said. “They can<br />

readily utilise exposure information<br />

as a key piece of intel for critical preplanning,<br />

or on-the-fly scenario event<br />

assessments.”<br />

The reports created by the AEIP<br />

draw on a wealth of data sources<br />

out of the National Exposure<br />

Information System (NEXIS) database,<br />

including local, state, federal and<br />

industry data; ABS demographics;<br />

environmental exposure data from<br />

the Department of Agriculture, Water<br />

Chief of Division at Geoscience<br />

Australia, Alison Rose, explained<br />

the significance of the platform to<br />

the Royal Commission into National<br />

Natural Disaster Arrangements in<br />

early June.<br />

“The AEIP is an all-hazards capability,<br />

which provides exposure reports<br />

27<br />


and the Environment; and agriculture,<br />

business, building and institution data.<br />

The AEIP is already being widely used<br />

across Australia, including during<br />

our most recent devastating natural<br />

hazards.<br />

“During the 20<strong>19</strong>/20 bushfire period,<br />

14,400 reports were generated.<br />

On an average monthly basis, we<br />

have around 400 reports that are<br />

generated, and we currently have<br />

244 users across 58 different entities<br />

that use the tool,” Rose told the Royal<br />

Commission.<br />

Half of these entities are emergency<br />

management agencies, with local<br />

government authorities and electricity<br />

providers among a group of regular<br />

users.<br />

Anyone wanting to access the AEIP<br />

and its exposure reports can do so<br />

through the free online platform<br />

– aeip.ga.gov.au – or can integrate<br />

the platform into their own existing<br />

applications using an Application<br />

Programming Interface, or API. This<br />

means that users can create regular<br />

reports without having to leave their<br />

own system, which is what the New<br />

South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW<br />

RFS) has been doing for months.<br />

Dr Stuart Matthews, principal project<br />

officer at NSW RFS, describes the<br />

value of being able to integrate the<br />

AEIP into their internal fire simulator.<br />

“The ability to integrate AEIP …<br />

provides an excellent triage capability<br />

to support decision makers in<br />

times of rapidly changing events as<br />

experienced in the unprecedented<br />

bushfire season of 20<strong>19</strong>/20,” Dr<br />

Matthews said.<br />

The AEIP has already proven to be<br />

invaluable in a crisis, when demand<br />

for critical information is extremely<br />

high. By speeding up the automatic<br />

delivery of vital exposure information,<br />

its nationally consistent and easily<br />

accessible format ensures that<br />

information and decision making can<br />

be calculated and coordinated across<br />

Australia. Explore it at aeip.ga.gov.au.<br />

End-user areas of interest (more than 14,000) for December 20<strong>19</strong> to March <strong>2020</strong>. This map shows that exposure reports were generated for both small and large areas, covering all<br />

states and territories. Dark-blue areas show multiple AEIP queries, correlating with extreme weather events e.g. 20<strong>19</strong>/20 bushfires. Credit: Australian Exposure Information Platform<br />

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The Good, The Bad & The Ugly<br />


Tammie Bullard is a paramedic and sessional lecturer based<br />

in Western Australia. Author of The Good, The Bad & The Ugly<br />

Paramedic - A pain free approach to best patient care and<br />

professionalism.<br />



One of the things often overlooked in<br />

training is the precepting of students<br />

and interns. There is no more crucial<br />

a time for a new paramedic than their<br />

first foray into ambulance life. Without<br />

a specific emphasis on this skill, it<br />

can be easy to forget its importance.<br />

How we introduce new staff members<br />

to the prehospital world can make<br />

all the difference. Not only to their<br />

experience in the workplace but in<br />

their general attitude, clinical practice,<br />

should we become their patients in<br />

the future.<br />

On the job learning is vital in<br />

healthcare settings, particularly<br />

in paramedicine with its unique<br />

challenges of autonomy and frontline<br />

pressure. It enables new staff to<br />

enhance academic knowledge<br />

through hands-on experience and<br />

develop recently acquired skills<br />

in the safety of competent clinical<br />

supervision. Overall, they finally get<br />

to consolidate training by putting it<br />

into practice in real-life situations.<br />

With the guidance of an effective<br />

preceptor, this venture into each<br />

new paramedic’s role can provide<br />

the perfect opportunity to increase<br />

confidence and job satisfaction.<br />

During such a pivotal period, how a<br />

preceptor interacts with the student<br />

and guides them into paramedicine<br />

may make or break their future<br />

career. The aim of instilling excellent<br />

clinical practice behaviours and<br />

professionalism to last a lifetime<br />

is clearly crucial, so what are the<br />

challenges in delivering to such a high<br />

standard?<br />

• Terminology: Confusion around<br />

terminology has been longstanding,<br />

with a combination of mentor,<br />

preceptor, facilitator, role model,<br />

guide, supervisor and assessor<br />

referenced over time.<br />

• Approach: Attempts to view every<br />

preceptor and every preceptee<br />

in the same light have created<br />

difficulties in ascertaining a<br />

consistently replicable approach.<br />

• Standardisation: Minimal industry<br />

standards have existed in terms of<br />

what the precepting role entails.<br />

• Tools: Communication skills and<br />

feedback were most often based<br />

on individual perception, risking<br />

confusion, damage to confidence<br />

and development of poor habits.<br />

• Workload: Additional workload<br />

and increased stress with minimal<br />

support or financial remuneration<br />

have drained and overwhelmed<br />

preceptors in the past.<br />

Lack of clarity in each of these areas<br />

causes stress, overwhelm and personal<br />

conflict, subsequently reducing<br />

willingness to address issues arising<br />

in on-road clinical and professional<br />

practice. Ultimately, this leads to a<br />

more “tick and flick” approach to skills<br />

logs. Research and reflection have<br />

highlighted areas for improvement and,<br />

in more recent years, we see significant<br />

headway.<br />

• Terminology: The use of preceptor<br />

and, less frequently, mentor are<br />

now becoming more familiar as<br />

terms that envelop ideal traits and<br />

qualities for on-road introduction<br />

to the paramedic role.<br />

• Approach: Recognition of different<br />

service pathways, tertiary education<br />

formats and individual personalities<br />

are beginning to enhance<br />

understanding around the need for<br />

an all-encompassing approach.<br />

• Standardisation: Industry<br />

standards are helping to form<br />

the basis of performance models,<br />

primarily when supported by<br />

registration principles.<br />

• Tools: Positive feedback methods<br />

have been highlighted as successful<br />

and are becoming utilised more<br />

frequently within ambulance<br />

services and education.<br />

• Workload: Recognition of the<br />

additional demand on paramedic<br />

preceptors has seen some success<br />

through supportive measures such<br />

as peer discussion, allocated time<br />

for debriefing or documentation,<br />

promotional structures and<br />

financial compensation.<br />

This gradual development of each facet<br />

is slowly increasing collective desire<br />

for paramedics to become preceptors,<br />

rather than naturally progressing<br />

towards the role without a clear<br />

purpose. To help to shape a positive<br />

future, what are we aiming for?<br />

• Terminology: Clarity and definition<br />

around the singular terms<br />

“preceptor” and “preceptee” that<br />

29<br />


ecome globally accepted and<br />

recognised throughout prehospital<br />

care.<br />

• Approach: Selection and training,<br />

specific to evidence-based criteria,<br />

so that competent paramedics may<br />

be educated in precepting for the<br />

future.<br />

• Standardisation: Industry-wide<br />

standards formulated to provide<br />

clear expectation and guidance<br />

for both preceptor and preceptee<br />

to work from. The establishment<br />

of clear underpinning principles<br />

so that paramedics with excellent<br />

clinical and professional standards<br />

more readily aspire to become<br />

excellent preceptors.<br />

• Tools: Development of a range of<br />

recognised communication and<br />

feedback tools so that both parties<br />

have guidance within consistent<br />

parameters.<br />

• Workload: Implementation of<br />

measures to address, alleviate<br />

and compensate for the additional<br />

workload and emotional labour<br />

involved in precepting.<br />

Strong paths are being forged towards<br />

defining the role and industry standards<br />

in precepting paramedics for the future.<br />

The introduction of students and<br />

graduates into prehospital care is now<br />

more widely discussed, and previous<br />

gaps in research are slowly being filled.<br />

(There are some theses and articles that<br />

are well worth reading in the references<br />

list below.) Historically, much of the<br />

focus has remained on the difficulties<br />

faced by graduates entering the<br />

workforce, but there are similar facets<br />

to consider in supporting both parties if<br />

we are to develop effective precepting<br />

programs and foster strong working<br />

relationships.<br />

It is well recognised that the learning<br />

curve is steep for new paramedics, but<br />

that learning curve can also be steep<br />

in the preceptor position, too. Just as<br />

preceptees don’t necessarily know the<br />

best ways to approach clinical skills<br />

or professional practice, it cannot be<br />

assumed that preceptors always have<br />

the best answers either. Entry into<br />

paramedicine is known to be a difficult<br />

time with the balance of personal,<br />

emotional, academic, financial and<br />

professional commitments, but it stands<br />

to reason that this can be the case at<br />

any time in the preceptor’s life, too.<br />

With so much going on in the<br />

background of defining, developing and<br />

delivering paramedic preceptorship to a<br />

high professional standard, we mustn’t<br />

forget those currently active within the<br />

role. Unless and until we are provided<br />

clear guidelines in each organisation,<br />

the following prompts may be useful<br />

before and during the time we spend<br />

with students and graduates.<br />


• What benefits are you seeking, and<br />

what are you offering in becoming<br />

a preceptor?<br />

• Are you ready to undertake the<br />

additional workload involved right<br />

now?<br />

• Do you possess positive<br />

professional attributes that may be<br />

worth replicating?<br />

• Are you comfortable delivering and<br />

receiving honest feedback without<br />

feeling stressed?<br />

• Will you be the type of preceptor<br />

that you would have benefited from<br />

in your early career?<br />


• Make a list of expectations you<br />

have of the role so that you can<br />

reassess in the future.<br />

• Note precepting habits you wish<br />

to avoid and check in on them<br />

annually to stay on track.<br />

• Print out a diagram or chart to<br />

follow consistently in working<br />

through feedback together.<br />

• Refresh reflective practice<br />

techniques and find a set method<br />

to become familiar with.<br />

• Seek formal training in precepting,<br />

or research and read material to<br />

help you form a plan.<br />

• Investigate learning techniques and<br />

find out from preceptees which<br />

work well for them.<br />

• Know what your registration body<br />

expects of all paramedics and use<br />

this as a baseline.<br />

• Create (or join if your organisation<br />

has one) a confidential peer<br />

preceptor support group.<br />

• Find out what additional support<br />

exists within your organisation<br />

before you get started.<br />

• Make a brief list of things useful<br />

for new preceptees to know about<br />

working with you.<br />

• Create a list of questions so that<br />

you can tailor and optimise each<br />

precepting relationship.<br />

• Let the preceptee know your<br />

expectations right from the start<br />

and find out theirs, too.<br />

The rewards to be gained from<br />

precepting are enormous, but they are<br />

rarely automatic and must be actively<br />

sought. Like many relationships, the<br />

more we put in, the more get out. We<br />

always recall our past preceptors for<br />

both their good and their bad. Now’s the<br />

time to decide just how we’d like to be<br />

remembered ourselves and take steps<br />

to precept successfully with intent.<br />

References<br />

Armitage, E. (2010). Role of paramedic mentors in an evolving<br />

profession. Journal of Paramedic Practice, 2(1), 26–31. https://doi.<br />

org/10.12968/jpar.2010.2.1.46151<br />

Carver, H. (2016). The Paramedic Preceptor Experience: Improving<br />

Preparation and Support. Charles Sturt University. Retrieved from<br />

https://researchoutput.csu.edu.au/ws/portalfiles/portal/9316959/<br />

Edwards, D. E. (2018). A Grounded Theory Study of the<br />

Preparedness of Paramedics to Undertake the Role of Preceptor in<br />

the Clinical Setting. University of Tasmania. Retrieved from https://<br />

eprints.utas.edu.au/31638/1/Edwards_whole_thesis.pdf<br />

Myrick, F., Caplan, W., Smitten, J. & Rusk, K. (2011). Preceptor/mentor<br />

education: A world of possibilities through e-learning technology.<br />

Nurse Education Today, 31, 263-267. https://doi-org.ezproxy.ecu.<br />

edu.au/10.1016/j.nedt.2010.10.026<br />

O’Meara, P., Hickson, H., & Huggins, C. (2014). Starting the<br />

conversation: what are the issues for paramedic student clinical<br />

education? Australasian Journal of Paramedicine, 11(4). https://doi.<br />

org/10.33151/ajp.11.4.4<br />

Pitcher, D. (2016). Evaluating a program for preparing nurse<br />

practitioner preceptors/mentors. Journal of Doctoral Nursing<br />

Practice, 9(1), 158–163. https://doi.org/10.1891/2380-9418.9.1.158<br />

Sibson, L., & Mursell, I. (2010). Mentorship for paramedic practice:<br />

are we there yet? Journal of Paramedic Practice, 2(5), 206–209.<br />

https://doi.org/10.12968/jpar.2010.2.5.4816<br />

Sibson, L., & Mursell, I. (2010). Mentorship for paramedic practice: is<br />

it the end of the road? Journal of Paramedic Practice, 2(8), 374–380.<br />

https://doi.org/10.12968/jpar.2010.2.8.78012<br />

Ulrich, B. T. (20<strong>19</strong>). 2nd ed. Mastering precepting : A nurse’s<br />

handbook for success. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.<br />

proquest.com<br />

Walker, S., Dwyer, T., Moxham, L., Broadbent, M. & Sander, T.<br />

(2013). Facilitator versus preceptor: Which offers the best support<br />

to undergraduate nursing students? Nurse Education Today, 33,<br />

53-535. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nedt.2011.12.005<br />

Williams, A. (2013). The strategies used to deal with emotion work in<br />

student paramedic practice. Nurse Education in Practice, 13, 207-<br />

212. https://doi-org.ezproxy.ecu.edu.au/10.1016/j.nepr.2012.09.010<br />

To see more about “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly Paramedic”, head to<br />

www.gbuparamedic.com or follow GBU Paramedic on social media<br />

@gbuparamedic<br />

@gbuparamedic<br />

@gbuparamedic<br />

Tammie Bullard<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 30

The Govetts Leap bush fire burnt upwards over the cliffs of the Blue Mountains.<br />

The cliff faces in the Grose Valley, can reach heights of over 200m<br />

31<br />





Last season’s bushfires directly killed 34 people and devastated more than 8<br />

million hectares of land along the south-eastern fringe of Australia.<br />

A further 445 people are estimated to have died from smoke-induced<br />

respiratory problems.<br />

The burned landscape may take decades to recover, if it recovers at all.<br />

While it’s become known colloquially as the Black Summer, last year’s fire<br />

season actually began in winter in parts of Queensland. The first fires were<br />

in June.<br />

So will the <strong>2020</strong> fire season kick off this month? And is last summer’s<br />

inferno what we should expect as a normal fire season? The answer to both<br />

questions is no. Let’s look at why.<br />

Author:<br />

Kevin Tolhurst<br />

Hon. Assoc. Prof., Fire Ecology and Management,<br />

University of Melbourne<br />

This article was first published on<br />

“The Conversation”<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 32

Last fire season<br />

First, let’s recap what led to last year’s<br />

early start to the fire season, and why<br />

the bushfires became so intense and<br />

extensive.<br />

The fires were so severe because<br />

they incorporated five energy<br />

sources. The most obvious is fuel: live<br />

and dead plant material.<br />

The other sources bushfires get<br />

their energy from include the terrain,<br />

weather, atmospheric instability and<br />

a lack of moisture in the environment<br />

such as in soil, timber in houses and<br />

large woody debris.<br />

The June fires in Queensland resulted<br />

from a drought due to the lack of rain<br />

coming from the Indian Ocean. The<br />

drought combined with unusually hot<br />

dry winds from the north-west. By<br />

August the bushfires were burning all<br />

along the east coast of Australia and<br />

had become large and overwhelming.<br />

Ahead of the fire season,<br />

environmental moisture was the<br />

lowest ever recorded in much of<br />

eastern Australia. This was due to the<br />

Indian Ocean Dipole – the difference<br />

in sea surface temperature on either<br />

side of the ocean – which affects<br />

rainfall in Australia. The dipole was<br />

in positive mode, which brought<br />

drought. This meant the fire used less<br />

of its own energy to spread.<br />

High atmospheric instability, often<br />

associated with thunderstorms,<br />

enabled large fire plumes to develop<br />

as fires grew to several thousand<br />

hectares in size. This increased winds<br />

and dryness at ground level, rapidly<br />

escalating the damaging power and<br />

size of the fires.<br />

Fuel levels were high because of the<br />

drying trend associated with climate<br />

change and a lack of low-intensity<br />

fires over the past couple of decades,<br />

which allowed fuel levels to build up.<br />

What’s different now<br />

Currently, at least two bushfire<br />

energy sources – fuels and drought –<br />

are at low levels.<br />

Fuels are low because last season’s<br />

fires burnt through large tracts of<br />

landscape and it will take five to ten<br />

years for them to redevelop. The<br />

build-up will start with leaf litter, twigs<br />

and bark.<br />

In forested areas, the initial flush<br />

of regrowth in understorey and<br />

overstorey will be live and moist.<br />

Gradually, leaves will turn over and<br />

dead litter will start to build up.<br />

But there is little chance of areas<br />

severely burnt in 20<strong>19</strong>-20 carrying an<br />

intense fire for at least five years.<br />

What’s also different this year to<br />

last is the moist conditions. Drought<br />

leading up to last fire season was<br />

severe (see below).<br />

Environmental moisture was the<br />

driest on record, or in the lowest 5%<br />

of records for much of south-east<br />

Australia.<br />

But the current level of drought is<br />

much less pronounced.<br />

Fire weather conditions in southeastern<br />

Australia were severe from<br />

August 20<strong>19</strong> until March <strong>2020</strong>.<br />

Temperatures reached record highs<br />

in places, relative humidity was low<br />

and winds were strong due to highpressure<br />

systems tracking further<br />

north than normal.<br />

Rainfall Deficiencies: 36 months (February 1 2017 to January 31 <strong>2020</strong>). Australian Bureau of Meteorology,<br />


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But, in the longer term, climate<br />

change means severe fire seasons<br />

are becoming more frequent. If we<br />

simply try to suppress these fires,<br />

we will fail. We need a concerted<br />

effort to manage the bushfire risk.<br />

This should involve carefully planned<br />

and implemented prescribed fires,<br />

as well as planning and preparing for<br />

bushfires.<br />

Last bushfire season should be a<br />

turning point for land management<br />

in Australia. Five inquiries into the<br />

last bushfire season are under way,<br />

including a royal commission, a<br />

Senate inquiry and inquiries in South<br />

Australia, Victoria and New South<br />

Wales.<br />

This European Space Agency image shows the fires already raging on Australia’s east coast by the end of December 20<strong>19</strong>. EPA/ESA<br />

A change in weather patterns<br />

brought good rains to eastern<br />

Australia from late February to April.<br />

A turning point?<br />

The reduced bushfire risk is likely<br />

to persist for the next three to five<br />

years.<br />

These inquiries must lead to<br />

change. We have a short window of<br />

opportunity to start managing fires in<br />

the landscape more sustainably. If we<br />

don’t, in a decade’s time we may see<br />

the Black Summer repeat itself.<br />

It’s too early to say conclusively how<br />

the fire season will pan out in <strong>2020</strong>-<br />

21. But moister conditions due to<br />

a neutral Indian Ocean Dipole and<br />

Southern Oscillation Index (which<br />

indicates the strength of any El Niño<br />

and La Niña events), the lack of fuel,<br />

and more normal weather patterns<br />

(known as a positive Southern<br />

Annular Mode) mean there is little<br />

prospect of an early start to the<br />

season.<br />

The likelihood of severe bushfires in<br />

south-east Australia later in the year<br />

and over summer is much reduced.<br />

This doesn’t mean there won’t be<br />

bushfires. But they’re not likely to be<br />

as extensive and severe as last fire<br />

season.<br />

Rainfall Deficiencies: 12 months (June 1 20<strong>19</strong> to May 31 <strong>2020</strong>). Australian Bureau of Meteorology<br />

info@silverspade.com.au<br />

CANADA BAY NSW 2046<br />

www.silverspade.com.au 0410 101 011<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 34




Put your hand up for help.<br />

The sooner you do, the sooner you get better.<br />


IO N<br />

O F<br />

S O U TH<br />

I A<br />



In each edition the Australian Emergency Services Magazine we<br />

feature a profile on a person, team, partnership, squad or unit<br />

to showcase their unique contribution to the emergency services<br />

industry. If you would like to be featured or know someone who<br />

deserves some recognition get in touch with our team.<br />


Professional firefighter Darin Sullivan has<br />

worn many hats over the last 30 years of<br />

fighting fires in New South Wales. <strong>Vol</strong>unteer,<br />

Career Firefighter, Station Officer, Protector,<br />

Activist, former Union Official and President<br />

of the Fire Brigade Employees Union, Mental<br />

Health Advocate and Climate Council<br />

Member. With so many years of experience<br />

and an obvious dedication for firefighting<br />

and emergency services we put Darin under<br />

the spotlight to find out a bit more about<br />

this man of many talents and passions.<br />

Station Officer Darin Sullivan is celebrating his 30th<br />

year working for one of the largest urban fire and<br />

rescue services in the world, Fire and Rescue NSW.<br />

His role as station officer at Shellharbour Fire Station,<br />

south of Wollongong, is one he relishes. Not only as it<br />

seems fighting fires is in his blood, but also because of the<br />

community and camaraderie that comes with the job.<br />

It would seem Darin was destined to become a<br />

professional career firefighter. His father, Peter Sullivan,<br />

was also a professional aviation firefighter. It was<br />

the memories of his father coming home wearing his<br />

firefighting gear, the lingering smell of smoke around him<br />

and the great stories he would tell of the day and the<br />

incredible camaraderie of the crew he worked with that<br />

really made a deep impression.<br />

Growing up in the southern shire of Sydney, surrounded<br />

by national parks, joining the RFS as a volunteer when he<br />

was seventeen seemed an obvious choice for Darin. His<br />

then girlfriend, now wife, also had four family members in<br />

the local RFS station at Heathcote, her father eventually<br />

becoming a Life member. Interestingly prior to joining<br />

the RFS Darin had already made up his mind. At the age<br />

of fifteen he knew he wanted to become a professional<br />

firefighter. By the time he was 20 he had applied to the<br />

NSW Fire Service with 10 000 other hopefuls and made it<br />

through the rigorous training that followed.<br />

Darin when he joined NSWFB with his father Peter Sullivan - <strong>19</strong>90<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 36

Reflecting on the last thirty years of being in the fire<br />

service he speaks of the great career choice that it was for<br />

him and feels really lucky to have had the experiences and<br />

life it has brought. Darin began his career at the innercity<br />

flagship station, Sydney Fire Station on Castlereigh<br />

Street. He describes himself as a fresh faced 21 year<br />

old who entered the bustling city station which housed a<br />

large firefighting crew. Darin says he “cut his teeth” there<br />

as a firefighter and asserts it was a great place to do that.<br />

The diversity of working as a city firefighter and the many<br />

varied and colourful experiences of urban firefighting<br />

really consolidated his training. From fighting fires in Kings<br />

Cross, major high-rise fires at The Rocks to the many<br />

rescues across the Sydney region at all times of the day<br />

and night.<br />

After 6 years working in the city, he was transferred<br />

to Wollongong which he describes as another very<br />

interesting and diverse place to work in its own right due<br />

to the varied industry in the area. An example of this was<br />

an incident that occurred during his time in Wollongong<br />

where his team were called to a boat fire off Port Kembla.<br />

The crew were expecting to be dealing with a boat<br />

fire when they turned up at the dock and were quickly<br />

ushered on to a police tug. They could only fit 10 guys<br />

on the tug so they grabbed what they could in terms of<br />

equipment and supplies. They travelled 7km out from<br />

the Port and it was then that they realised it wasn’t just a<br />

boat, it was a bulk carrier coal ship that was on fire. They<br />

fought the fire for 8 hours straight until helicopters came<br />

in and were able to assist.<br />

As a professional firefighter Darin has been deployed to<br />

all the major fire campaigns in New South Wales over<br />

the last three decades. From the <strong>19</strong>94 bushfire season<br />

where over two million acres were burnt in New South<br />

Wales, to the Black Christmas bushfires in 2001, Canberra<br />

in 2003 and of course most recently the Black Summer<br />

of 20<strong>19</strong>-20 where he suffered the worst bout of smoke<br />

inhalation he had ever had which forced him to take a few<br />

days off to recover.<br />

Darin has been leading the Movember Fire Campaigns for the last 15 years<br />

The Summer bushfires of 20<strong>19</strong>/20 stand out for Darin as<br />

the worst he has seen in his career and he is in no doubt<br />

that the climate and the inaction of a climate policy has<br />

had its affect on the bushfire season and will continue in<br />

seasons to come. He describes what firefighters are seeing<br />

and feeling on the ground is certainly backed up by the<br />

science and is a symptom of what the science has been<br />

predicting for years.<br />

It was on New Year’s Eve that the bushfires really had a<br />

personal impact. Darin and his family had been holidaying<br />

at Lake Conjola on the NSW South Coast when he was<br />

called back home to work on New Years Eve. He wasn’t to<br />

know as he left his wife and family that morning that within<br />

hours Lake Conjola would be overrun by an inferno of fire.<br />

A firestorm that would send people fleeing to the water for<br />

safety, burn 89 homes in the area and see three people<br />

tragically lose their lives.<br />

Darin speaks of the anxiety he felt when he received<br />

a message from his wife that the fire was all around<br />

them, then all communication was cut. Power and<br />

telecommunication towers to the town were down. He was<br />

hours away doing his job.<br />

An hour or so later his Hazardous Materials Specialist<br />

Unit were called to the bushfire disaster unfolding at<br />

Bateman’s Bay. They drove through the main fire front<br />

at great risk to themselves in convoy with a few other fire<br />

trucks. He says there were dozens and dozens of houses<br />

lost at Bateman’s Bay, all just carnage. They finished the<br />

job and drove back past the Lake Conjola area, stopping to<br />

help bystanders at the Lake Conjola exit. They made the<br />

decision to drive through the fire into Lake Conjola to help,<br />

where he managed to find his wife and discovered the rest<br />

of the family had evacuated earlier to safety.<br />

Deployment during the NSW Black Summer bushfires 20<strong>19</strong>-20<br />

It was a 24 hour workday for Darin, but one he remembers<br />

as the most surreal New Year’s Eve he had ever experienced<br />

after such a harrowing day. “These bushfires were the worst<br />

that I’ve seen – I’ve fought and been deployed in many of<br />

the major campaigns over the last 30 years and that was<br />

by far the worst I’ve seen. Coupled with the sheer spread<br />

of it, the whole eastern seaboard was ablaze. In <strong>19</strong>94 it felt


like Sydney was surrounded but in 20<strong>19</strong>/20 the<br />

whole state was surrounded by fire”.<br />

The physical, emotional and mental toll of<br />

fighting fires is not lost on Darin. He credits<br />

Fire and Rescue NSW with having a great<br />

structure in place to help firefighters deal<br />

with the mental stress, but he also says it<br />

is the job. As a professional firefighter you<br />

are prepared for it, intentionally trained for<br />

it. In contrast, the volunteer firefighters were<br />

enormously overstretched and broken by<br />

this latest bushfire campaign. Darin believes<br />

that the entire organisational structure of<br />

firefighting and emergency services needs a<br />

reset. Merging the services into one would end<br />

the duplicated processes, have an allocated<br />

budget for efficiency and give the fire services<br />

who are the frontline of disaster management<br />

a clear structure. “Firefighting should be taken<br />

as seriously as police, paramedics and hospitals’, he says<br />

“We don’t have volunteer police or doctors in our regional<br />

towns, it’s all a matter of funding”.<br />

Advocating for what is right, when it comes to protecting<br />

those who put their lives on the line, is something that<br />

is close to Darin’s heart. As the second longest serving<br />

president of the Fire Brigades Employees Union and a<br />

former director of the NSW Fire Brigades Death & Disability<br />

Super Fund, he was instrumental in the protection of<br />

workers compensation for fire fighters and ensuring<br />

that firefighters suffering cancer would have immediate<br />

insurance cover due to the nature of the job. He explains,<br />

“The greatest risk for firefighters whether it be urban or<br />

rural is the accumulative effect of smoke from different<br />

sorts of fires….it’s not just the big bad fires that cause the<br />

damage”.<br />

Darin lost both his father and brother in law to cancer,<br />

both whom were firefighters. In an interview given to<br />

The Sunday Telegraph in 2018 Darin spoke of his brother<br />

in-law, “In 2007, I sat by his bed with my sister as his life<br />

had all but faded, no workers’ compensation or medical<br />

assistance was provided for his girls. He died in a shared<br />

public hospital ward with little to show for his service to the<br />

people of NSW”.<br />

Darin is still just as passionate about this advocacy and<br />

proud that he was able to make a difference so that other<br />

firefighters and families going through the same thing<br />

would at the very least be financially compensated.<br />

Darin is reluctant to call himself a protector, however he<br />

does say that his advocacy role as a union official came<br />

from being there for others. Looking after other members<br />

and families in the good times and the bad times. “It’s<br />

just what we should do”, he says. Darin balances his<br />

professional firefighting job at Shellharbour with his<br />

activism around climate inaction, mental health and<br />

protecting emergency service workers. In response to<br />

being asked if he would take on a role behind a desk in the<br />

fire service, he laughs and explains, “I’ve wanted to stay at<br />

the rank of station officer as I still like going to the fires, I<br />

still like getting in the trucks, interacting with the firies and<br />

I love the station life”. When asked what he loves about his<br />

job Darin says it might sound cliché but, “The camaraderie<br />

is fantastic, I’ve got great mates, I’ve got lifelong friendships<br />

and experiences which spread to outside the job and that’s<br />

been an absolute joy. From joining as a young bloke and<br />

to have gained lifelong friends, it’s an absolute pleasure.<br />

I’m still loving the job, more than ever”.<br />

Thank you Darin for your continued service, dedication and<br />

contribution to the emergency services in Australia.<br />

Leading the Fire Brigade Employees Union Workers comp strike 2012<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 38

TRAVEL<br />


Breaks<br />

If you’re looking for a mid-year, Winter break, the best<br />

place to look is up north, of course!<br />

Words: Brooke Turnbull

The closer you get to the equator,<br />

the less seasonal changes occur,<br />

so the north of the country really<br />

only has two seasons. Wet season,<br />

this generally lasts from November<br />

to March, and Dry season, which<br />

lasts April to November. So, if you’re<br />

heading north for the Winter, or live in<br />

Cairns and are looking for an excellent<br />

staycation, look no further for our<br />

recommendations.<br />

Location:<br />

Cairns has its own airport and all<br />

major capital cities fly into it. Cairns<br />

itself is situated at the top of the Great<br />

Barrier Reef and because of this, has<br />

access to some of the most stunning<br />

and beautiful coastline that Australia<br />

has to offer. If you’re flying in, you can<br />

rent a car and drive around the area,<br />

otherwise there are plenty of day<br />

tours on offer to get you around to all<br />

the major things to see.<br />

Things to do:<br />

Cairns, with it’s palm tree rimmed<br />

coastlines and dense, tropical<br />

rainforests, has no shortage of things<br />

to do. Whether you’re looking for an<br />

adventure holiday or somewhere to<br />

relax and unwind, Cairns is the place<br />

to do it. First up, we want to introduce<br />

you to a world of adventure in Cairns.<br />

From white water rafting to bungy<br />

jumping, if you’re ready to get your<br />

heart racing and your blood rushing in<br />

your ears then look no further.<br />

With 32 years of experience in taking<br />

holiday makers safely to the water,<br />

Raging Thunder White Water Rafting is<br />

unbeatable for excitement and value<br />

for money.<br />

If you’re new to the white water rafting<br />

game, that’s no problems, there’s no<br />

experience needed for you to get<br />

your life jacket on and your oar wet.<br />

If you’re looking for a fun start up,<br />

the Cairns rafting experience takes<br />

you down the Barron river with grade<br />

2-3 guided rapids. However, because<br />

we’re a little more extreme, we highly<br />

recommend the Tully River Rafting<br />

experience.<br />

With accommodation pick ups<br />

available, the full day adventure takes<br />

you down to the Tully River and can<br />

boast the best river rafting in Australia<br />

and New Zealand combined, which is<br />

no mean feat, believe us. The full day<br />

tour includes a delicious BBQ lunch<br />

on the river side and has guaranteed<br />

water levels year round. With grade<br />

3-4 rapids, hold on to your hat and<br />

enjoy one of the best days you’ll have<br />

on the water.<br />

The half day Cairns tour starts from<br />

$136 self-drive to the meeting<br />

location. Full day Tully River tour is<br />

$<strong>19</strong>9 with pick ups from Cairns. If<br />

you’ve got little ones though, make<br />

sure you leave them at home, the<br />

rapids are only safe for ages 13 and<br />

up.<br />

Ok, so you’ve taken on the rapids<br />

and you’re ready for something else.<br />

We give you AJ Hackett. Australia’s<br />

only bungy jump tower! From the 50<br />

metre tower you can see the Northern<br />

Beaches and the Great Barrier Reef,<br />

just before you take the plunge down,<br />

the rainforest blurring around you.<br />

With 16 different jump styles, you’re<br />

sure to find the one that suits you<br />

best.<br />

If you’re not into the bungy, but still<br />

want the adrenaline rush, the Giant<br />

Jungle Swing is for you. Swinging<br />

through the rainforest from 45 metres<br />

down to 1 metre and reaching speeds<br />

of 120 km per hour, this is the world’s<br />

fastest swing. If you’re swinging alone<br />

or doing it with mates, you have all<br />

the control with the Jungle Swing,<br />

all you’ve got to do is pull that selfrelease.<br />

The bungy starts from $139 and<br />

includes the jump, a t-shirt and a<br />

certificate. The Jungle Swing starts<br />

from $129 per adult and includes the<br />

swing and a certificate. If you want to<br />

make a full day of it, we recommend<br />

picking up the Skypark Adventure Day<br />

pass. For $299 this includes unlimited<br />

bungy and unlimited jungle swings,<br />

transfers from accommodation in<br />

Cairns and a delicious lunch.<br />

If you’re all tuckered out from your<br />

adventurous, adrenaline pumping<br />

tours, or if it’s really not your scene<br />

there are plenty of other available<br />

activities to get you out and enjoying<br />

your tropical holiday. Without a doubt,<br />

you cannot go to Cairns and not hit<br />

the Great Barrier Reef.<br />

Sightseeing Tours Australia offer the<br />

only fully inclusive Great Barrier Reef<br />

full day tour. From $205 per adult or

$125 per child this tour takes you out to the reef in<br />

style on the gleaming catamaran. Your tour includes<br />

pick up from your Cairns accommodation, before<br />

starting your day off right with a delicious breakfast<br />

that includes bacon and egg rolls, fruit platters and tea<br />

and coffee.<br />

While you cruise to the outer reef you will be given<br />

a safety and equipment briefing, along with an<br />

informative marine biology presentation. Unlike many<br />

other Reef tours, this one will wait until the day before<br />

the Captain makes the decision as to which reef you<br />

will go to. This allows maximum visibility and the best<br />

conditions possible for your day.<br />

Included in your tour is a complimentary certified dive<br />

or beginner dive (no experience necessary), a glass<br />

bottom boat tour and snorkelling with all equipment<br />

provided.<br />

The Jungle Swing - AJ Hackett<br />

After you’ve spent the morning exploring the reef,<br />

you’ll enjoy a delightful BBQ lunch before the<br />

afternoon of more snorkelling, there’s so much to see<br />

under the water you wont get bored. On the cruise<br />

back to Cairns, you can enjoy a complimentary glass<br />

of wine with a fruit and cheese platter while you relax<br />

after your sun filled day.<br />

In between enjoying the beaches of Cairns you can<br />

take in the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway that runs<br />

above the Barron Gorge National Park. Or enjoy<br />

the Kuranda Scenic Railway that snakes its way up<br />

Macalister Range. While you’re in Kuranda check out<br />

the Kuranda Original Rainforest Markets. Explore the<br />

Cairns night markets and pick up some souvenirs<br />

to take back home. Or, take a walk along Four Mile<br />

Beach, and have fun in the wildlife habitat of Port<br />

Douglas. Whatever your pleasure, Cairns and its<br />

surrounds, will have it in abundance.<br />

Make the most of your Winter break up north.<br />

Places to Stay:<br />

As with things to do, Cairns has no shortage of<br />

excellent places for you and your family to stay and<br />

play.<br />

White Water Rafting Tully RIver<br />

Gibb Group is a dynamic Australian<br />

property developer and asset<br />

manager, specialising in industrial<br />

logistics property, suburban office<br />

and business park space.<br />

Asset Management Development Investment<br />

Level 3, 162 Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000<br />

admin@gibbgroup.com.au<br />

0402 825 825<br />

www.gibbgroup.com.au<br />

41<br />


The Shangri-la Hotel on the Marlin Marina is perfect<br />

for enjoying all that the Marina has to offer. With<br />

prices starting from $<strong>19</strong>1 per night in low season for a<br />

Deluxe Room, it’s on the upper end of the price scale<br />

but has all the amenities you could wish for. All rooms<br />

have either a balcony or a courtyard and include free<br />

wifi. The hotel itself offers a huge swimming pool,<br />

plus a children’s pool, a health club and access to the<br />

Marlin Marina. With 3 restaurants and bars, you have<br />

plenty of choice for a range of dining options, or with<br />

in room catering delivery between 7am and 10pm,<br />

have the dining come to you for a more private option.<br />

Cairns is the perfect place to take the kids for a holiday<br />

and the Cairns Colonial Club Resort is the perfect<br />

place to stay with them. Offering 3 lagoon style pools<br />

and a man made beach, plus a toddler pool and large<br />

children’s playground, the kids can enjoy their stay and<br />

play adventure while you relax at the Thirsty Flamingo,<br />

the perfect poolside bar, to take in some live music<br />

and enjoy a cocktail.<br />

Set amongst 11 acres of tropical rainforest gardens<br />

the Cairns Colonial Club resort is an excellent familyfriendly<br />

option, and with Resort rooms starting from<br />

as low as $91 per couple, per night in low season, it’s a<br />

budget friendly one too!<br />

Great Barrier Reef - Sightseeing Tours Australia<br />

Finally, for a more self-contained option, the Reef<br />

Palms offer Queen Bed Studios for as little as $89<br />

per night in low season. These rooms are perfect for<br />

a larger family that want the freedom to enjoy their<br />

apartment as a home away from home. Located 2<br />

kilometres from the city centre and boasting a large<br />

swimming pool and spa, BBQ area, breakfast cafe,<br />

daily room service, free wifi, plus free shuttle to the<br />

Cairns CBD and free airport transfers…what a home<br />

it is!<br />

So while Winter down south is appealing with cold<br />

nights spent drinking wine and snuggling in, if you’re<br />

looking for something a bit wilder book your flight<br />

to the north of the country and spend your break<br />

soaking up the warmth under a palm tree while<br />

watching the sun’s ray glint off the blue jewel water.<br />

There’s really nothing like Winter in the tropics.<br />

Kuranda Scenic Railway<br />

Rare and Beautiful, Gemstones<br />

and Crystals, Exhibition and Sales<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 42

In an emergency, call Triple Zero (000)<br />

To contact the police, fire or ambulance in an emergency, call<br />

Triple Zero (000) from any telephone in Australia. Calls are free.<br />

When to call Triple Zero (000)<br />

You should only call Triple Zero (000) in life<br />

threatening or time critical situations when<br />

an urgent response is required from police,<br />

fire or ambulance.<br />

What will happen when I call<br />

Triple Zero (000)?<br />

The operator will ask you which emergency<br />

service you require—police, fire or ambulance<br />

—and will connect you. The operator may also<br />

ask where you are calling from.<br />

What if I have difficulty speaking English?<br />

If you have difficulty speaking English, you<br />

can ask for an interpreter once you have been<br />

transferred to the emergency service you<br />

requested. You will not have to pay for the<br />

interpreter.<br />

When you call Triple Zero (000), stay calm,<br />

stay on the line and clearly answer the<br />

operator’s questions.<br />




Eat well and keep active. Stay in touch by phone<br />

or video calls and seek help if you need it.<br />

Together we can help stop<br />

the spread and stay healthy.<br />

Find out more at australia.gov.au

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