New South Wales | NSW govt announces new SES Commissioner

Today the NSW Government announced the appointment of Mr Adam Dent as the new Commissioner of the NSW SES.

The NSW SES congratulates Mr Dent on his appointment as the Service’s new Commissioner.

Mr Dent is responsible for leading the reform of relief and recovery arrangements in Victoria as a part of the broader emergency management reform program. This includes creating a coherent strategic framework for relief and recovery coordination that provides improved scalability and partnerships, streamlining governance and coordination arrangements, review, development and implementation of an end-to-end impact assessment system and developing crisis communications and community engagement arrangements.

Mr Dent was previously the State Manager Emergency Services at Australian Red Cross for seven years and led a program of change that saw Red Cross grow its role in the Emergency Management Sector.  At Red Cross Mr Dent led over 3,000 volunteers and staff across Victoria, providing support to communities before, during and after emergencies.  He led the Red Cross’ largest ever emergency response to Black Saturday, the 10/11 floods and played leadership roles in significant interstate events including Cyclone Yasi and the Tasmanian Fires.  Mr Dent implemented new approaches to long-term community recovery following Black Saturday with his team achieving international recognition for innovation in recovery. He is passionate about volunteers, leadership and resilience building.

Mr Dent will be commencing with the NSW SES on Monday, January 5th, 2015.

Northern Territory | Record number of Territory toddlers enrol in learn to swim programs

The Northern Territory Government’s Learn to Swim Voucher Scheme is behind a record number of toddlers being enrolled in learn to swim programs through the Royal Life Saving Society (NT).

Minister for Sport and Recreation Gary Higgins, who was joined by former Australian swimming coach Laurie Lawrence at Nightcliff Primary School today, said there have been 1173 toddlers registered to complete the Water Safety Awareness Program since 1 July this year, exceeding the entire 2013-2014 total of 1138.

“Undertaking the Water Safety Awareness Program is a precursor to parents and carers being eligible to access the Northern Territory Government’s $100 Learn to Swim Vouchers,” Mr Higgins said.

“The Learn to Swim Voucher Scheme has resulted in nearly 800 vouchers being issued to parents and carers who are keen to take advantage of the Government’s free water safety initiative since it began in July this year.

“The Territory’s climate and lifestyle makes swimming and living near water almost compulsory so it is certainly heartening to see a record number of parents taking the initiative and ensuring their child attains this important lifelong skill.

“The Learn to Swim Vouchers are part of the Giles Government $5 million expansion of the successful Sports Voucher Scheme, which is aimed at easing the financial squeeze on families.”

Under the scheme, Territory children aged five years and under who are not enrolled in pre-school or school are eligible for $200 in swimming lessons a year, available as twice yearly $100 vouchers.

Mr Lawrence, who is a water safety ambassador and head of the national Kids Alive Do the Five Drowning Prevention Campaign, praised Territory parents who had taken advantage of the scheme.

“Practice and exposure are the keys to learning to swim. Therefore if you want your child to learn fast, you need to take them to a pool regularly. The Northern Territory Government’s Learn to Swim Voucher scheme makes it much easier for families to not only get to a pool but receive instruction from qualified swimming instructors,” he said.

“Drowning is the greatest cause of accidental death in children under five in Australia. On average one child drowns each week. I applaud the Northern Territory Government and the Royal Life Saving Society (NT) for helping to put an end to childhood drowning.”

Applications for the Learn to Swim Voucher scheme open from 1 January and 1 July each year. The Vouchers are valid until 31 May each year and are available from:

Queensland | Law enforcement animal agents honoured with new memorial


Police Commissioner Ian Stewart and the Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services Jack Dempsey revealed the Queensland Police Service Animal Memorial on Monday December 15 to honour the contribution serving animals have made to Queensland’s law enforcement.

It was a significant day for our police, in particular the Mounted Unit, Dog Squad and Stock and Rural Crime Investigation Squad who are partnered daily with their animal comrades.

The Queensland Police Service currently has 18 horses within the Mounted Unit, a number of horses with the regional stock squads, 68 general purpose police dogs, five Explosive Ordinance Response Team (EORT) and 11 drug detection police dog teams.

Our serving police dogs and horses form an integral part of policing by performing roles that are critical to the Queensland Police Service, both in an operational capacity and community policing functions.

Most recently, their presence was invaluable during the G20 summit.

Whilst performing various operational duties our animals are sometimes involved in dangerous and unpredictable situations, due to the inherent nature of policing.

Over 1100 offenders have been located this year using police dogs.

Most of all, these animals are our comrades. They have demonstrated true valour and enduring partnerships with our officers.

Throughout our history, animals and police have worked alongside each other. They assist in transportation, protecting, locating missing persons and locating dangerous or illegal materials. In our early days, horses were our patrol cars. We even used camels, oxen and pigeons.

It is important to acknowledge the contribution these animals have made and continue to make to our policing service and to the Queensland community. The memorial is one way in which we can do this.

The animal memorial is a sandstone plinth with a bronze plaque depicting a police dog and a police horse. It is situated in a garden outside the Chapel in the grounds of the Queensland Police Service Academy, Oxley.

PD Quinn and PD Turk were pawsitively grinning over the new memorial.
PD Quinn and PD Turk were pawsitively grinning over the new memorial.
Troop horses Idol, Dave, Elvis and Ernie enjoyed the ceremony, honouring their fellow QPS members.
Troop horses Idol, Dave, Elvis and Ernie enjoyed the ceremony, honouring their fellow QPS members.
Our friends from the Royal Australian Air Force joined us at the ceremony.
Our friends from the Royal Australian Air Force joined us at the ceremony.

Queensland | Lifesaving helicopter rescue services guaranteed for a decade under new agreement

Thousands of families from North Queensland to the Gold Coast will be safer after lifesaving helicopter rescue services were guaranteed with a new long-term funding agreement with the Queensland Government.

Premier Campbell Newman said the 10-year funding deal would ensure that sick kids and their families receive lifesaving medical air transport whether they were holidaying off the coast of Mackay or hiking in the Gold Coast hinterland.

“Our strong team is securing the future of vital helicopter services with this $300 million deal which helps almost 2,000 Queenslanders when they most need it, each and every year,” Mr Newman said.

“It means that young children requiring emergency medical transfers and boaties requiring assistance on our waterways can have peace of mind that help is available.

“To further enhance these vital services, the LNP will be increasing funding by $3 million in the first year to go toward upgrades of helicopters and bases.

“Our commitment to these services is part of our strong plan to make Queensland the safest place to live, work and raise a family.”

Fire and Emergency Services Minister Jack Dempsey said that Queenslanders from the Torres Strait to the Gold Coast and west of the Great Divide now had long-term access to emergency helicopter services.

“Only the LNP is committed to securing the future of these vital organisations, unlike Labor who wish to return to the same old team who underinvested in emergency services,” Mr Dempsey said.

“Community helicopter providers will, for the next decade, be able to work with our Government air emergency helicopters to secure a safe future for Queenslanders.

“Our commitment to helicopter services means that whether you require help on Horn Island or in the Gold Coast hinterland, we are there to assist.”

RACQ CareFlight Queensland Chairman, Rob Borbidge said CareFlight welcomed the new agreement as one of the most significant funding deals in the group’s 30 year history.

“The Newman Government has provided CareFlight with certainty over the next decade, enabling the service to continue to meet community expectations and needs and to commence a fleet renewal strategy that will see ageing aircraft replaced,” Mr Borbidge said.

“As a community provider, CareFlight has relied on a successful model of community and Government support, combined with incredible support from corporate sponsors.

“Without any of these key stakeholders, CareFlight would not be able to provide our lifesaving service to the community.”

CQ Rescue CEO, Martin Cleland, said the 10-year financial certainty provided by the Queensland Government ensured the future of a vital aeromedical service to the people and communities in the Mackay, Bowen Basin and Whitsunday regions.

“CQ Rescue’s mission trend in the past year has seen hospital transfers increase to almost 70% of our overall work”, said Mr Cleland.

“Given the remoteness of some Central Queensland communities, CQ Rescue is often a lifeline in times of urgent medical requirements that can only be provided at larger facilities.

“The commitment by the Newman Government guarantees our community helicopter rescue service will provide medical and life saving trauma support to our region well into the future.”

Executive Director for RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue, Mark Fewtrell welcomed the increased funding and long term agreement.

“This is welcomed by ourselves and the community who rely heavily on the helicopter in times of medical emergency and distress. The State’s increased funding will contribute towards meeting the overall costs associated with operating the rescue helicopter every hour and every day of the year.

“Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service has been engaged in negotiations with the State for a considerable time now regarding contract term and funding support.

“The 10 year agreement together with an increased level of funding will assist with planning and help ensure the long term sustainability of this vital community based rescue service.”


Victoria | New ‘Warnings and Advice’ video series from emergency services

To help people better understand the shared responsibility of being prepared for emergencies this fire season, Victoria’s emergency services have produced an informative video series around warnings and advice.

The three public videos – Warnings and Advice, Warnings: Bushfire and Grassfire, Warnings: HAZMAT and Structure Fire – are targeted at the wider community and communicate what to expect from warnings and advice messages this fire season.

Importantly, each video addresses the three vital warning levels – Advice, Watch and Act, and Emergency Warning – engaging the public to recognise each warning and understand what they mean, and what actions they should take in the face of an emergency.

In addition to the public videos, a members’ video, Community Warnings: Your Role, provides an overview of CFA’s role in delivering timely, tailored and relevant information, with a short introduction from Chief Officer Euan Ferguson.

All CFA members are encouraged to view these videos, and use them as a tool to engage the local community. The series of videos are now publicly available and can be viewed here.

Victoria | Amazing patient reunion after dramatic prolonged extrication


It was hugs all round for Mt Evelyn CFA members when they were reunited with a patient they helped save almost one year ago to the day, just 300 metres from the original crash site.

Lani Brereton was “incredibly lucky” to survive after being involved in a head on collision with a drunk driver on December 14 last year.

Lani was travelling along Baileys Rd Mt Evelyn on her way home with her young daughter when the van travelling along the wrong side of the road hit her car head-on pushing it into a tree and rolling it sideways.

Alcohol and speed were a significant part of the crash Lani said at today’s reunion with members from Police, Ambulance Victoria and CFA.

One of the incident controllers on the day, Mt Evelyn Captain Rick Ventrella, recalls Lani’s car was a “mangled wreck,” and to this day he is still amazed her daughter who was in the passenger seat did not suffer more serious injuries.

“Indigo [Lani’s daughter] sustained a small cut to the head and that’s about it.”

Lani however suffered extensive injuries including collapsed lungs, a broken knee, leg and foot and serious head injuries. She was in a coma for 10 days before miraculously regaining consciousness on Christmas Eve last year.

Captain Ventrella said it was a delicate and long operation to free a trapped Lani from the car, taking just over an hour on a humid 29 degree day.

“Lani was conscious and talking to us and she was in a pretty good state considering the extent of her injuries. Her main concern was the welfare of her daughter.

“The main focus during the extraction process was keeping Lani stable, and we did what we could before the paramedics arrived.”

After firefighters freed Lani she was treated by paramedics and airlifted to the Alfred Hospital where she technically died on the way.

It’s been a long and painful recovery for Lani since then who still hasn’t returned to work, however she wants to use her painful experience to urge others to be safe on the roads this Christmas.

CFA Firefighter Steve Deakins from Mt Evelyn brigade who also helped free Lani said it was incidents like this that made being a volunteer worthwhile.

“It was rewarding to see our work on that day helped save a life.

“We do it because we love it and we’re here to serve the community – but it can a toll when we attend tramatic incidents like this one – so to have a happy ending is just great.”

Captain Ventrella recalls that, although it was a very confronting scene for all involved, there was an amazing sense of calm between the three emergency services: Police, Ambulance Victoria and CFA.

“This incident was really a perfect example of emergencies services working as one.

“The camaraderie between emergency services during the incident was just fantastic – we work a lot better together than what people know.

“It’s great to be back here today to see Lani healthy and certainly in a very different state to the last time we saw her- it’s a fantastic end result.

“We have a job to do and often that means we are there to witness the misfortune of others, but we do what we do because we love it.”

As for Lani she’s looking forward to a much better Christmas this year with daughter Indigo positive “it will be the best Christmas ever” now that her mum is well on the way to a full recovery.

Victoria | Gastro cases linked to drinking unpasteurised milk

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Dr Rosemary Lester has issued a warning about the dangers of drinking raw cow’s milk.

Her warning has been prompted by five cases of gastroenteritis illness in children who had drunk unpasteurised milk.

“There have been three cases of Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (HUS) and two cases of cryptosporidiosis.

“HUS is a rare but serious condition caused by bacteria that affects the kidneys and the bloodstream. Cryptosporidiosis is a parasitic infection that commonly presents as gastroenteritis with watery diarrhoea.

“Only a small number of these pathogens are needed to cause illness. The sale of unpasteurised milk for human consumption is illegal in Victoria,” Dr Lester said.

“However all five cases drank unpasteurised milk which was sold as ‘bath’ or ‘cosmetic’ milk.

“Unpasteurised milk is labelled and sold for cosmetic use only, but the packaging is often very similar to other milk products.

“Unpasteurised milk increases the risk of contracting gastrointestinal illness because it can contain pathogens such as Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, shiga toxin-producing E. coli and Listeria monocytogenes.

“Since the 1940s it has been compulsory to pasteurise cow’s milk in Australia. Milk is heated for a very short period of time effectively destroying any disease-causing bacteria which may be present in raw milk.

“Everyone is vulnerable to illness caused by the pathogens present in raw milk, but the risks are even greater for young children and for the elderly, those with underlying health problems, immunocompromised or pregnant,” Dr Lester said.

No matter what precautions are taken by dairy farmers during milking, there can be no guarantee that the milk will be free from harmful bacteria, making pasteurisation essential.

Additional information is available on the Better Health Channel at

Victoria | Premier acts on paramedics’ pay demands

Premier Daniel Andrews has sent the issue of paramedics’ pay rates to the independent umpire, only hours after being sworn in as the state’s 48th Premier.

“At the moment, our hardworking paramedics aren’t getting the support they deserve and we want to help them. As promised, I’m putting this case in the hands of the independent umpire – it’s the best way to get a fair decision. I’ll be working with paramedics, not against them, to end the war on their profession and save the seconds that save lives.” – Premier Andrews

Before the election, Mr Andrews promised to refer the issue to the Fair Work Commission for consent arbitration, to bring Victorian paramedics’ pay in line with that in other states.

Mr Andrews wrote to the Fair Work Commission to advise that he had instructed the interim CEO of Ambulance Victoria to meet with the ambulance union and arrange a joint application.

The Premier’s actions are an immediate step towards resolving the long-running dispute between paramedics and Ambulance Victoria over their workplace pay and conditions.

Victorian paramedics are the lowest paid in Australia. The Government is hopeful that the matter can be resolved quickly and fairly so our hardworking paramedics get the support they deserve.

Victoria | Premier says Victoria’s ambulance system failed everywhere as response time crisis deepens

Victoria’s ambulance system failed everywhere – in every street, in every suburb, in every regional community. Last year, ambulances failed to meet Code 1 response targets in every one of Victoria’s 79 local Council areas.

This is the damning conclusion of a secret backlog of ambulance data, stretching back to January 2013. The data, buried by the Liberal Government for two years, was released under the Andrews Labor Government.

The data shows that regional Victoria is ground zero for the ambulance crisis. In Golden Plains Shire, only 12.01 per cent of emergencies were reached on time, with only 14.53 per cent reached on time in nearby Hepburn.

“Let there be no doubt why the Liberal Government hid these figures. They expose one of the biggest failures in the history of our health system. Victoria’s ambulance system failed everywhere – in every street, in every suburb, in every regional community. When the Liberal Government buried this data they betrayed every parent and every child in our state,” – Premier Andrews.

On both sides of the Bay – in Greater Geelong and on the Mornington Peninsula, over a third of emergency patients waited too long for an ambulance. Over three quarters of patients waited too long in Queenscliff.

In the outer-suburban growth areas of Melton and Whittlesea, ambulance performance declined by over 19 per cent. The biggest decline (27 per cent) was recorded in Moorabool Shire.

“Paramedics were right, our loved ones are at risk, this data is the proof and every Victorian deserves to see it. Each number represents hundreds, sometimes thousands, of parents and children who waited too long in pain and in danger.” – Jill Hennessy, Minister for Ambulance Services.

The data was requested under Freedom of Information in January. After months of roadblocks and resistance from the Board of Ambulance Victoria, the data was released this week under the Labor Government.

Before the 2014 State Election, Premier Andrews promised to end the war on our hardworking paramedics and expose the true state of the ambulance crisis by releasing local response times.

Victoria | 2014 Ambulance Victoria Community Hero Awards

Thirteen ordinary Victorians who performed extraordinary lifesaving acts have been recognised as heroes at the 2014 Ambulance Victoria Community Hero Awards.

Each Community Hero was presented with a medal, certificate and 4 Steps for Life Plus pack in an award ceremony at Parliament House.

The emergencies include:

  • Two men who both helped save the lives of two other men who collapsed in cardiac arrest at an Eltham North soccer ground nine months apart
  • A level-headed 12-year-old Meadow Heights boy who helped his elderly grandmother as her health was deteriorating rapidly
  • Cheltenham business neighbours who joined forces to save a new mother who collapsed in cardiac arrest at a gym eight weeks after the birth of her daughter
  • Brothers-in-law who helped a seriously injured man escape a smoking car wreck.

Ambulance Victoria General Manager, Regional Services, Tony Walker said this year’s Award recipients were chosen from 140 nominations by paramedics state-wide over the past year.

‘A medical emergency can occur anytime, anywhere, when we least expect it,’ Mr Walker said.

‘How we react to that emergency can depend upon our willingness to step beyond our own fear and place our own comfort and safety at risk to reach out and help another human being in distress.

‘Each of the 13 Community Heroes we celebrate here today, aged from as young as twelve through to over 60, have done just that. These everyday Victorians have helped save the life of a friend, family member or stranger. Their actions are clearly heroic and their actions are appreciated by paramedics.’

Mr Walker said that he hoped that others faced with a medical emergency would be inspired to take similar action.

‘These incidents show the importance of passers-by taking action before paramedics arrive and how this can be vital to the survival of a person,’ Mr Walker said. ‘We know that any CPR is better than no CPR and these heroes show us that we can all play a role in a medical emergency.

‘Victoria has world-class cardiac arrest survival rates which have improved substantially over the past decade thanks to the efforts of our paramedics and first responder partners, increased access to defibrillators in the community, and the willingness of bystanders to participate in life-sustaining resuscitation efforts.’

Be well. Practice big medicine.