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01/10/2014 - From the Past

Remember these
I found this, now historical, copy of my West Australian State Emergency Service_ Civil Defence Identity Card. This one would have been, according to date, issued to me when I was a SES Volunteer at Karratha and is signed by the Pilbara Regional Director, Duncan Glendenning. This would have been an update from the one issued to me a few years earlier when I was a Volunteer at Mandurah SES, issued by South West Regional Director, Nial Wilmont.  The Blue triangle on Orange background is the international symbol for Civil Defence.

During the 1980’s, it required the use of special Polaroid camera kit which had to be circulated around the state from SES Headquarters located at Leake Street, Belmont.  Interestingly, the ID card describes my hair in 1985 as black, which it was then.  Civil Defence or civil protection is an effort to protect the citizens of a state (generally non-combatants) from military attack. It uses the principles of emergency operations: Prevention, mitigation, Preparation, Response, or emergency evacuation and Recovery. Programs of this sort were initially discussed at least as early as the 1920s and were implemented in many countries, but only became widespread after the threat of nuclear weapons was realised.

Since the end of the Cold War, the focus of civil defense has shifted from military attack to emergencies and disasters in general. The new concept is described by a number of terms, each of which has its own specific shade of meaning, such as crisis management, emergency management, emergency preparedness, contingency planning, emergency services, and civil protection.

In Australia, the Civil Defence role evolved to the birth of the volunteer-based State Emergency Service (SES). The SES was formed in Western Australia in 1959.
The SES is an Australian volunteer organisation that provides emergency help during and after declared (natural or otherwise) disasters. The SES is also the primary or secondary agency for emergencies, such as storm damage, flood damage, building damage, traffic hazards and road crash rescue. In other scenarios the SES may provide a support role to other agencies, particularly police and fire. The SES is operational 24 hours a day.

The SES provides assistance to local communities in times of need. Because every community is different, every SES Unit has a slightly different set of roles and activities. Depending on the needs of the local community, a Unit may perform only some or all of these roles, such as:

  • Agency Support (Operations),
  • Agency Support (Training), Air Observation – Search,
  • Air Observation – Intelligence,
  • Air Support Operations,
  • Building Impact,
  • Communication Support Unit,
  • Crowd and/or Traffic Control,
  • Emergency services liaison,
  • Evacuation Centre Management,
  • Fire Support & Training,
  • First Aid,
  • Flood and storm preparation and response,
  • General rescue procedures and skills,
  • Land search, Management,
  • Marine Rescue,
  • Media, public relations and community education,
  • Mines Rescue,
  • Road-crash rescue,
  • Training coordination in nationally accredited subjects and courses,
  • Urban Search and Rescue (USAR),
  • Vertical rescue,
  • Tsunami & earthquake response.


Note: The source, Wikipedia, may not reflect contemporary SES roles and management. Each state/territory manages SES according to its own emergency management needs and legislation. That means that some roles maybe the primary function of another emergency agency in some state/territories.

Phillip Petersen ESM

Phillip Petersen CD Indentity Card

30/09/2014 - Kalbarri SES News October 2014

News from Kalbarri SES October 2014

Mac Holt from Kalbarri SES reports that we were deployed on a search operation for someone who was thought to be at risk - but had just 'gone fishing' . Normal training activities and then the Regional Exercise was cancelled so we went bush for the weekend with tricky navigation, though the Murchison House Station and into the Zuytdorp cliffs protected areas, met up with members of SES Useless Loop unit and conducted cliff rescue training for them. Great scenery, two night camp out, 'slippery' 4WD challenge in teeming rain when returning on Sunday.

Read the full report ====>Kalbarri-SES-Report-2014-10.pdf

25/09/2014 - PEER Support Info and Contact Details

PEER SUPPORT (also see the Peer Support Page)

Peer Support Teams are designed to support fellow emergency service personnel (permanent and Volunteer) in dealing with their reactions to Critical Incident Stress.  The service is provided by a group of concerned Volunteers who are themselves members of these services.  The teams follow an internationally respected model of intervention and provides a  unique peer support service based on a co-operative approach between management
of the services, unions and members of the emergency service themselves.

What is the role of a Peer Supporter?

  • To offer support to fellow workers suffering normal reactions following involvement
  • in a traumatic and/or critical incident
  • To allow sharing of a peer’s vulnerability and other emotions without losing status
  • To validate another’s normal but sometimes terribly unpleasant responses
  • To maintain strict confidentiality regarding support activities including topics
  • discussed and personnel involved
  • To provide a referral system to professional counselling if required.

PEER Support Contact Details ===>140925 - SES PEER SUPPORT GROUP Contact List - Flyer.pdf

23/09/2014 - AFAC Conference 2014 Report

2014 AFAC Conference
The 2014 AFAC Conference was held at Wellington, New Zealand. The conference theme this year was “AFTER DISASTER STRIKES, Leaning from Adversity”.
The AFAC Conference is partnered with Bushfire and Natural Hazard Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) and thus gives great emergency management diversity and interest to the conference.  There certainly was some learning from the Christchurch Earthquake in February 2011 with a sobering reminder that the city of Wellington (the location of the conference) was sitting on top of the very same fault line.

Some of the topics that captured my attention were:
•    Resilient Disaster Response and Recovery Lessons from a Social Science Research by Professor Kathleen Tierny, Director of Natural Hazards Centre, University of Colorado, USA. Kathleen discussed how resilience is now considered to be an essential element in disaster loss reduction. But what does resilience look like in the after math of a disaster and what factors may constitute barriers to response and recovery? Kathleen has just released a new book, entitled The Social Roots of Risk: Producing Disasters, Promoting Resilience, published in June 2014 by Stanford University Press. More on:

•    Zoe Keyon reported on a Young Emergency Management Volunteers ‘Change It Up’. This was about The Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC) managed project on behalf of the Australian Emergency Management Volunteer Forum (AEMVF). The project and its outcomes were designed to publicise opportunities that exist within the national emergency management (EM) sector to engage both younger volunteers and those from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds. One of the participants of this project is our very own SES Youth Awardee winner 2013, Melusha Robson, from the SES Communications Support Unit (CSU).

•    The experience of orthopeadic surgeon Dr Vaughn Poutawera was a reminder of the work and commitment of Australian and New Zealand Medical Assistance Teams (AusMAT and NZMAT) who volunteer to provide medical services in arduous conditions to assist when adversity strikes, due to Sudden Onset Disasters. He described the work done in his 14 day stint at the Australian Field Hospital in Tacioban, Philippines after the devastating Typhoon Haiyan. Vaugh also discussed why WHO Global Health established the Minimum Standards for Foreign Medical Teams (FMTs) in Sudden Onset Disasters The minimum standards provides clear guidelines and minimum service standards that FMTs should meet and recognises the sovereignty of the affected nation’s health agency in determining health care delivery in an emergency. Some of the graphic photos shown added great value to the presentation, highlighting the horrendous conditions these medical teams attempt to bring medical aid and some normality in disaster areas. More:

•    Measuring emergency management performance under adversity: The good bad and ugly was presented by Dr Christine Owen of University of Tasmania. Christine highlighted that senior emergency management personnel face more extreme events and complex challenges than their predecessors. However performance is more likely to be assessed by media and politics in an adhoc manner rather than measuring actual operational performance or needs. Dr Owen has worked with the Australasian Bushfire Co-operative Research Centre (Bushfire CRC) since 2006, as Program Leader for Education and Training (2006-2010) and also as research Project Leader for a four year funded research project “Enhancing Information Flow and Incident Management Team Effectiveness” along with other smaller projects and consultancies. In 2010 she took up the role of Project Leader to a multi-institutional multi-disciplinary research project funded again through the Bushfire CRC. This project examines strategic emergency management at state and regional levels and is titled “Organising for Effective Incident Management”. Personally, I felt that this lady should have led the disaster investigations that Keelty undertook and would have given a more wholesome outcome to the emergency services in Australia.

•    An USA perspective with The City of Chicago’s keys to preparation and recovery by Chicago Fire Chief Jose’ Santiago was interesting. In every major social emergency management event, they have to consider terrorism. Whilst I was bit gob smacked by this, recent events here in Australia are indicating that, regrettably, that our thinking will also have to change.

•    Cultural Collisions_The problem of sustaining a volunteer workforce in NSW SES by Michael Jones of the University of Wollongong. He introduced us to Norm and Norma Norm, average Australian volunteers based on some cultural-personality models. He discussed the complexity of volunteering in today’s society. An informed understanding of these dilemmas needs to be understood by emergency management staff if they wish to retain the services of Volunteers.

•    Our own DFES Commissioner, Wayne Gregson, was part of an Industry Leaders Panel that addressed industry issues and practices chaired by CEO for AFAC, Stuart Ellis. Other panel members were Paul Baxter the National Commander NZ Fire service, Stephen Griffin the newly appointed CEO for SES in Victoria, David Nugent GM for Environment and heritage, Parks Victoria and Chicago Fire Chief Jose’ Santiago.

A number of speakers discussed how we need to integrate social media and spontaneous volunteering in times of major disaster. Whilst it is not generally fit most emergency management models and practices, not to accept this and harness these will be detrimental to future emergency management.
Also attending the conference was 2013 Peter Keilor Awardee, Martin Hale from Bayswater SES Unit. A berth to the AFAC Conference is part of the recognition/reward for winning this prestigious SES award.

Phillip Petersen ESM
SE Region
SESVA Representative


MC bringing the conference to order

Martin Hale talking to the ISUZU trade team about the new ISUZU truck at Bayswater SES.

 DFES Commissioner, Wayne Gregson was part of an Industry Leaders Panel.

4 Maori entertainers at Gala Night held at Te Papa Museum

Victorian SES CEO, Stephen Griffin

22/09/2014 - Presidents Conference Report

The Fire and Emergency Services Conference
The annual conference is less than two weeks away and more than 130 SES Volunteers have registered from all over the state. In fact there is nearly 600 Emergency Response Volunteers registered.  A lot of hard work by all Volunteer Services and a number of DFES staff, in particular the Media and Public Affairs staff, put a lot of time and effort into organising this event.

This year there is a special “Orange” stream for SES Volunteers to attend, learn more and provide feedback to DFES and the SES Volunteers Association. They can also visit any other session they so desire.  DFES have also organised a smart phone app to assist during the Conference and this should be available for download a week before the conference. It has some very useful options.

The SES Program – in brief
Please note that all these presentations will take 15 minutes with an opportunity after the presentation for feedback and questions and answers.

  • SES Volunteer Pathways Training – Presenter Darren Klemm (AC Professional Development). Darren will cover the pathways for all SES Volunteer training.
  • Trainer Assessor – Presenter Stuart Wade (Superintendent Operational Delivery). Stuart will cover the progress, structure and program for all trainer/assessors.
  • Training Administration – Presenter Les Hayter (SESVA Chair of the Training Sub-Committee) will present on the requirements of administration of the Training function.
  • Emergency Services from a Youth Perspective – Presenters Melusha Robson, Sarah Thomas, Matt Hare and Karina Saunders. Melusha, Sarah and Matt have just returned from a World Youth Conference as part of the International Association for Volunteer Effort and will discuss what captures their interest and keeps them motivated in Emergency Services.
  • Unit Administration – Presenter Michelle Hall (Clubs Australia). Michelle the Incorporations act, Governance and responsibilities, by law, of Incorporated SES Units.
  • PPE Ordering and Issuing – Presenter Mark Feast (District officer Operational research). Mark will be talking about the ordering processes and issuing of equipment.
  • Vehicles and Equipment of the Future – Presenters Paul Carr and Graham Hardy. Paul and Graham will be talking about the future and where they DFES is going in regards to vehicles.
  • Vehicles and Equipment Open Forum – Presenter is David Price (SESVA Vehicles Sub-Committee Chair). David will conduct an open forum to receive feedback and questions on Vehicles and Equipment.

The SES Awards night will be in Ballroom 1 at the PCEC (At the time of writing there were a few tickets left so you would need to hurry if you haven’t got one)

On the Sunday the SESVA will conduct their AGM at 8.00am followed by some announcements.
At 9am the SESVA will conduct an open forum for SES Volunteers to provide feedback or ask questions on SES or DFES matters.
On the Sunday at 9.45am the Minister for Emergency Services will be delivering an official address.

The Minister’s address will be followed by other speakers and a live practical demonstration.  After lunch there are a number of other service non-specific sessions with the conference closing at 4.00pm. 

At lot of effort and organisation by DFES has gone into this Conference and we believe that a lot will be learnt by the SES Volunteers

See you there,
Gordon Hall
SESVA President
0427 002 702

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