NSW Rural Fire Service volunteer
"There’s a famous photo of thousands of people flocking to safety on Malua Bay, in a thick orange haze from the bushfires ripping through the region. It was New Year’s Eve in 2019 and I was one of the emergency services volunteers. We all had family members who took shelter on that beach while watching the fires burning in the surrounding bushland. That chaotic day is etched in my memory."
"I had joined the Malua Bay Rural Fire Brigade and the EVOS Communications Rural Fire Brigade four years prior when I retired. My wife and I moved to Bateman’s Bay from Melbourne, after 40 years teaching high school math, and working in IT."
Life, service and resilience
“In my years in emergency services, I’d been to bushfires, motor vehicle accidents, flood rescues and other emergency callouts, but it was nothing like the devastating 2019-20 bushfires. For nearly three months, I was out every day doing rescues or recovery.”
"Nothing prepares you for the emergency services role. There are, however, transferrable skills that can be applied. The EVOS Communications Rural Fire Brigade is tasked with providing communications between the Incident Management Team (IMT) in the Incident Control Centre, and the vehicles and commandeers on the ground."
“There’s a lot of technology involved in the work that I do. Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) helps to allocate the most useful, relevant appliances for each particular emergency incident. RFS trucks have technology that helps to locate where vehicles are, crew size and equipment required to makes it more efficient.”
“There’s a broad spectrum of people in the brigade and it helps that we all come from all walks of life. There are, of course, nurses, doctors and paramedics, but also mechanics, plumbers, and road workers. The variety of professional skills and people skills is important.”
Community and maintaining health
“This work has enriched my life after retirement and given me an opportunity to protect the community that welcomed us in. It gives me purpose and helps keep me young – which is important given I have 18 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.”
"I’m 78 and in good health. I’ve had multiple issues over the years including triple bypass surgery, a stent inserted into my coronary artery, and a shoulder replacement. I’ve bounced back well each time, I believe, because I’m proactive about my health."
"I walk six to seven kilometres a day, eat well, sleep eight hours a night, visit the doctor regularly, and use self-monitoring tools such as a blood pressure machine. I educate myself on the latest medical research and make changes to my lifestyle."
“After reading about the impact of alcohol consumption on heart health, I cut down from three glasses of wine a night to a couple per week.”
"All these things impact my mental health just as much as my physical health. The opposite is also true. It’s all one body that is physical as well as mental. “I also see health as consciously minimising negative thinking and unnecessary criticism. I take it from my blood group, B positive – to be positive.”
Navigating challenges, facing fears & finding support
“If you’re going through a health crisis and you can’t be positive, share the problem with someone to help lessen the load. A problem shared is a problem halved.”
"My previous health issues, and what I’ve seen during my time in emergency services, hasn’t left me afraid."
“What I do worry about the most is losing my eyesight or hearing – because that’s my view into the world. Just like I can’t run flat out anymore, I accept some limitations as a function of ageing.”
“After decades with a non-profit health insurance for teachers, I joined Emergency Services Health. I like the nature of the fund, the return on services, and the way I’m treated whenever I have a question or claim.”
“I don’t believe health insurance or education should be for-profit. It shouldn’t be used as a goldmine to line their pockets.”