Written by Janine Irwin
VetPrac Workshop Leader & SES Legend

I’ve been working within my local State Emergency Service Group for over 20 years and to be completely honest until now it has been all about lost people, storm damage and the odd flood. Now our climate has other ideas…

The arid dry heat, the high winds, and the severe lack of rain has made a lot of our country. It’s turned our back yards, and our local parks into the perfect environment for fires. I recently had the honour of working side by side with our amazing emergency services (fire fighters, police and ambulance) for some of the blazes burning around Queensland. Being able to help with adjunct elements that don’t involve fighting the fire means we have been able to free up more fire fighters to be on the front, doing what they can to protect lives and properties. With everyone doing their little part, it quickly adds up to a huge collection of people, most just volunteering.

It makes me feel good to know I work in a community that does a lot of volunteer work. Lots of Facebook posts from vets and vet staff involved in SES and also animal welfare and rescue makes me feel proud to be part of this community.

But why am I going on about this? Well most of us think, “It will never happen to me right?” But, in some way it will (directly or indirectly) and it hurts to see what people have lost. As a community we can help others. We are AUSSIES right? That’s what we do!

Have a chat with your neighbours, friend, and rellies. Do they have a fire plan? Do YOU have one? For home? What about WORK? We spend so much of our lives at work with the animals we care for and the clients we see. Have you thought through and written down a plan for evacuating? Consider the clinic and how you can leave it safely. When should you leave? Will you need to evacuate patients? Where can they go? D your patients have additional needs to be considered?

For those who are rural, what’s the access like for emergency services? Do you have trees in close proximity or hanging over the building? Are the gutters cleaned out? It takes just one tiny flying ember to land in dry leaves in your gutter to start a new blaze. These are just a few things you can think about to prepare.

The most important thing you can do is take 20 minutes to discuss what you and your family (work or home) are going to do during a fire. Fire doesn’t discriminate. Bush or the burbs you NEED a PLAN. Keep up to date with the warning through your local fire government agencies and ABC news. Many have pages on Facebook, Twitter etc like QFES (QLD) & NSW Rural Fire Service where they will update and release warnings or evacuation announcements. Find out what agency you need to follow so you can keep your loved ones safe.


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