Once in a lifetime
My journey along the east coast fire front of the Black Summer fires during the spring of 2019 and the summer of 2020 was nothing less than extraordinary.
In a time when my normal as a NSW SES volunteer unit Commander at Sutton outside of Canberra is storms and flash flooding, suddenly I found myself in the midst of fires, the like of such had never been seen before in Australian recent history.
For me it started with a deployment to Glenn Innes fire control centre (FCC) managing transport logistics for the RFS in a 250 km circle. Upon returning I was suddenly enveloped locally around Braidwood (my ancestral family home) assisting the RFS as a NSW SES liaison officer, logistic runner and whatever else I could do to lighten the load of the local RFS crews.
Then I lent a hand to the ACT SES after a massive hail storm. I saw the start of the Beard fires that almost leapt into Queanbeyan and then finally a deployment to the Monaro FCC as the public media officer, as the fires raged outside of Canberra and throughout the Snowy Mountains.
In total I spent over 50 days as a SES member, volunteering in one of the most horrifying natural disasters in my lifetime.
I saw amazing acts of bravery, kindness and such compassion that it will be with me for life. And you know, it’s the little things that made the difference to us, like an old fridge decorated with lights on the side of the road filled with thanks from the community and a fizzy drink, not having to have to put your hand in your pocket for a coffee or meal while in uniform, and the sheer gratitude in the faces of everyone you met.
And it made me proud to wear my uniform and to be an Aussie.