China | Hong Kong – 46 people sickened after eating store-bought prepared sandwiches

Update: The number of people sickened has risen to 59.

A Taiwanese brand of sandwiches that led to several food poisonings was likely contaminated during the manufacturing process, Secretary for Food & Health Dr Ko Wing-man says.

Dr Ko told reporters that 15 clusters of 46 people had fallen ill with suspected food poisoning after eating “Hung Rui Chen” sandwiches produced in Taiwan.

He said that because the food was bought from different retailers in Hong Kong and involved more than one import channel, the sandwiches were likely contaminated during the manufacturing stage, which is why a total ban on the product was announced yesterday.

Dr Ko added that if any importers, distributors or retailers are found to have violated the Public Health & Municipal Services Ordinance, they could face legal consequences.

He noted that since the last affected person had purchased the sandwiches on July 30, it is believed that there are no more available on the market.

Health authorities will continue working with the wholesaler, retailer and importer, and boost retail inspections, Dr Ko added.

Western Australia | New era for volunteers at St John Ambulance

Several new volunteer roles have been created at St John Ambulance Western Australia to give more people the opportunity to give something back to the community.

Volunteers have always been integral to St John Ambulance with more than 4,500 people already committed to roles as event medical officers and country ambulance officers.

Now, St John is offering a new opportunity to assist in the care of non-emergency patients within the metro area.The four new positions are: Community Attendant, Community Companion, Dual Transfer Officer and Hospital Transit Officer.

St John Volunteer Member Services General Manager Kate Fina said the new volunteer roles will enhance the already high-quality of care offered by St John, particularly in the area of non-emergency patient transport.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for St John to engage with more members of the community,” Ms Fina said.

“The new positions are less physically demanding than some of our other volunteer roles, and require a commitment of as little as four-eight hours a week and no weekends. The priority for these roles is to provide companionship and in-transit care to low acuity patients, rather than the clinical know-how.

“Duties will range from moving a patient from a hospital ward for transfer by ambulance and accompanying people to their medical appointments.”

“Essentially, we are looking for people who are friendly, community-minded and have a few hours to spare during the week.”

Ms Fina said the program was also designed to help elderly people living within the community.

“The new volunteer service allows us to provide an accessible and affordable transport service for the community by engaging the support of trained volunteers,” she said.

Ms Fina said St John was committed to quality patient care and to ensuring that each person feels comfortable, safe and assured throughout their journey.

She said all new volunteers would receive high level St John training to equip them with skills and confidence.In addition to advanced first aid training and a Level One St John Ambulance qualification, volunteers will have the opportunity to advance to a Certificate IV in Health Care (Ambulance).

For more information, email, call 1800 069 393 or visit

Victoria | New helicopter ambulances unveiled


Minister for Ambulance Services Jill Hennessy today unveiled the first of Victoria’s five new state-of-the-art ambulance helicopters which will help patients get the life-saving care they need, sooner.

The new AgustaWestland AW-139 twin engine helicopters will begin transporting critically ill patients across Victoria from 1 January 2016.

Air ambulance helicopters respond to major trauma incidents, search and rescue operations, life-threatening medical emergencies and transfer critically ill patients from rural to major Melbourne hospitals.

In 2014-15, air ambulance helicopters responded to more than 1,800 emergencies across Victoria.

The new bigger and faster helicopters that can travel further without having to refuel will replace each of the existing air ambulance helicopter fleet, which are located at Essendon, Bendigo, Warrnambool and the Latrobe Valley.

The existing fleet is made up of a Dauphin twin engine helicopter and four Bell 412 helicopters.

Over the next few months, the new helicopters will be fitted-out with specialist medical and rescue equipment and flight crews and paramedics will undergo training.

The Andrews Labor Government wants to ensure Victoria has the strongest ambulance service possible, so that patients can get the life-saving care they need, when they need it.

In the 2015-16 Budget, the Government has invested an extra $2.1 billion in the health system, including an additional $99 million for ambulance services.

This extra funding includes $20 million to upgrade and modernise ambulance stations across the state, $20 million to upgrade vehicles and equipment, and increased support services for Victoria’s hardworking paramedics.

Victoria | Firefighter recognized for work developing training for CBRNE incidents

LFF Shane Jenkin has been presented a Chief’s Commendation for developing a three-day exercise to upskill agencies to manage serious incidents.


Chief Officer’s Commendation
Leading Firefighter Shane Jenkin

In recognition for your exemplary contribution to the development, co-ordination and implementation of the 2015 Victorian Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear and Explosives (CBRNe) Incident Managers Exercise, 23 to 25 July, 2015.

You demonstrated strategic maturity, professionalism and leadership to promote, engage, develop and coordinate the implementation of this multi-agency exercise was well above the core activities and expectations of an Operational Leading Firefighters and ensured the successful implementation of this forum.

Furthermore, your dedication to this project has influenced and enhanced CBRNe awareness and preparedness across the emergency management sector. The implementation of this program is both timely and relevant to the current elevated threat environment and evidenced by recent global events. Furthermore your professional and ambassadorial contribution has significantly elevated the MFB’s reputation and brand within the CBRNe and emergency management community.

Queensland | Understanding fire danger essential for your safety

Firefighters are urging south east Queensland residents to familiarise themselves with the Fire Danger Rating (FDR) system before the upcoming bushfire season.

Rural Fire Service Queensland (RFSQ) South Eastern Regional Manager Corey Bock said whether you live in the urban fringe, or in regional or rural Queensland, it was important for everyone to understand what each level of fire danger meant.

“The Fire Danger rating or FDR is an assessment of the potential fire behaviour, the ability to suppress fire quickly and the potential for impact on the community should a bushfire occur on any given day,” Mr Bock said.

“There are six levels of FDR, ranging from ‘low-moderate’ to ‘catastrophic’ which take into account forecast temperatures, humidity, wind speed and dryness of vegetation.

“We use the FDR system to ensure members of the public are aware of daily fire conditions and the level of action required should a bushfire occur in your area.”

Mr Bock said FDR indicated to residents the true risk of staying and defending a home, particularly on days with heightened fire conditions.

“A ‘low-moderate’ or ‘high’ fire danger rating means that a bushfire could be easily controlled and pose little or limited risk to life or property,” he said.

“Fires that occur during a ‘very high’ fire danger are starting to move quickly and are often hard to contain or suppress. Lives and homes may be threatened.

“A fire that occurs during ‘severe’ or ‘extreme’ fire weather conditions could be unpredictable and fast moving, with the potential for people to be injured and homes destroyed.

“In ‘catastrophic’ weather conditions, fires would burn so fast and hot they would be uncontrollable, unpredictable and fast moving. The potential for loss of property and life would be high during these conditions.

“It is important to realise that the message for all fire danger categories, especially on the upper end of the scale, is that leaving early is the safest option.”

Mr Bock said it was important for residents living or travelling in an area of high bushfire risk to keep a close eye on Fire Danger Rating signs.

“FDR signs are located all across south east Queensland, providing locals and travellers with a quick snap shot of what the bushfire danger rating is and how vigilant they should be,” Mr Bock said.

“People should also ensure they stay updated on weather conditions throughout the bushfire season and have a clear plan in place should a fire break out.

“All of these methods of messaging are designed to be as informative as possible so you are able to make the best decisions for your family, ahead of bushfire threat.”

The daily RFSQ Fire Danger Rating Graphic is available at

Queensland | Official start to bushfire season a reminder to prepare

With this Saturday marking the official start to the 2015 bushfire season, north Queenslanders are being reminded that now is the time to finalise their bushfire preparations. 

Rural Fire Service Queensland (RFSQ) acting Bushfire Safety Officer Gordon Yorke said although Saturday, 1 August marked the official start of bushfire season in Queensland, there was still time for landholders to prepare.

“There are many areas in the region where grass fuel loads are high, but you still have time to get out there, take control of the situation and burn off before the vegetation dries out,” Mr Yorke said.

“Weather conditions are still favourable for landholders to conduct their own hazard reduction burns, following the issue of a permit.

“Reducing fuel loads in high risk bushfire areas decreases the chance of loss of property or even life during a bushfire. The earlier landholders can burn off, the better.”

Mr Yorke said landholders wanting to light a fire in the open should seek advice from their local Fire Warden as a permit may be required.

“The Permit to Light a Fire system is enforced to ensure burns are conducted at an appropriate time of the year, are suitably managed and planned and emergency services are notified,” he said.

“Permits are required at all times for a fire which is bigger than two metres in any direction. They are free and can be obtained from your Fire Warden.”

Mr Yorke said it was also essential for all residents to prepare a Bushfire Survival Plan and detail exactly how they would prepare and what action they would take, if they were threatened by a bushfire.

“The plan must be in writing, practiced regularly and take into consideration the ages and physical capabilities of everyone in your household including children and the elderly,” he said.

“I encourage all north Queenslanders to download and fill out a Bushfire Survival Plan from the RFSQ website (”

To locate your Fire Warden contact your local Area Office, details are available at

Queensland | Sugarcane burn-offs lead to rise in smoky conditions

Far North residents can expect to see increased smoke in the air over coming months, as sugarcane growers conduct waste burn-offs.
Rural Fire Service Queensland (RFSQ) Acting Far Northern Regional Manager Tony Hazell said burning of sugarcane waste was a common land management practice which created large amounts of smoke for extended periods.

“Sugarcane growers are skilled, responsible managers of fire and have to abide by strict pre-harvest and post-harvest burning guidelines,” Mr Hazell said.

“These guidelines include obtaining a permit to burn and restricted hours of burning, which helps minimise the inconvenience from smoke and ash resulting from cane waste fires.”

Mr Hazell asked that residents understand that the burns are a necessary step for many farmers.

“The sugarcane plant is harvested between May and December each year and for locals it is the familiar smell of cane waste burns that lingers in the air for days,” Mr Hazell said.

“Fire assists harvesting by removing excess leaves, vermin and health hazards for the harvesting operation.

“On certain soil types it also assists in the cane ratooning and reducing the greenhouse gas emissions from water logging with a trash blanket present.”

Mr Hazell said many growers owned and maintained their own firefighting equipment but rural firefighters were always on standby if extra help was needed.

“Local sugarcane growers can count on RFSQ to provide extra support when burns don’t go to plan,” he said.

Mr Hazell also advised those residents affected by smoke in the area to close windows and doors and if suffering from a respiratory condition, keep medication close by.

To locate your local Fire Warden, access the Fire Warden Finder tool on the RFSQ website or contact your local Area Office. Details are available at

Queensland | New vessel for Thursday Island Water Police

IMG_0610 IMG_0669

Police Commissioner Ian Stewart today joined the Isua family at the launch of the new QPS vessel the ‘Carolus Isua’.

Commissioner Stewart said the new vessel was being named in the memory of the late Honorary QPS Superintendent Carolus Isua, making it the second police vessel to carry that name since 2004.

“Mr Carolus Isua was committed to serving his community, ensuring the safety and security of all,” Commissioner Stewart said.

“The same parallel could be drawn to this new vessel that will proudly bear his name and help us protect and serve the people of Queensland.

“The new RHIB has been purpose designed and built to conduct police operations and patrols in Queensland coastal waters with the fit out aimed at providing a versatile platform for patrols and marine law enforcement with an enhanced capacity for Search and Rescue operations.

“It is predicted that the vessel will be involved in between 30 to 50 Search and Rescue incidents annually.”

Mr Isua was born in 1921 and commenced his policing career in the Native Police Force on Saibai Island in 1962. Throughout his career he campaigned for greater training opportunities and cooperation between the Torres Strait Community Police and the Queensland Police Service, which earned him an Order of Australia Medal (OAM).

Even after his retirement in 1986, Mr Isua continued to support the QPS and was instrumental in forging positive working relations between the Service and the communities of the Torres Straits. Mr Isua was appointed as an Honorary Inspector to the QPS in 1986 and in 1988 was appointed as an Honorary Advisor to the QPS on indigenous issues.

In 2003 shortly before Mr Isua’s passing, his contribution was recognised by the QPS and he was promoted to the role of Honorary Superintendent.

The previous vessel, a 6 meter RHIB, has been donated to the Yorke Island Volunteer Marine Rescue where it will continue to assist the Torres Strait community in a search and rescue role.

Queensland | Three K9s join QPS Human Remains Detection team


Tomorrow will be a special day for three of our furry comrades as Police Dogs (PDs) Bertie, Larry and Prue will be officially sworn in at the Queensland Police Service Academy, Oxley campus, as Human Remains Detection Specialist (Cadaver) dogs.

Since its conception in 2006, the QPS Cadaver Detection Dog Team has become a valuable tool used in assisting to locate recently deceased and historical human remains, and in the event of natural disasters and aircraft crashes.

So unique is their capability that the only other State to have cadaver dogs is New South Wales, which results in regular requests for our team to provide assistance to other police departments throughout Australia.

The dogs have undergone intense specialist training with their handlers and are stationed at the Brisbane Dog Squad where they perform duties throughout the State as Cadaver Detection Police Dog Teams.

As of tomorrow the QPS will have 68 General Purpose dogs, 5 Explosive Ordinance Response Team dogs, 11 Drug Detection dogs, and 4 Human Remains Detection (Cadaver) dogs.


PD Bertie

He may be the oldest and the smallest of the trio, but PD Bertie brings a lot of experience to the group. Celebrating his fifth birthday this year, PD Bertie was trained with the NSW Police Force in human remains detection. He transferred to the QPS where he has been working for two years and successfully completed the QPS Human Remains training.

At times PD Bertie forgets he is a Springer Spaniel and for fun likes to go up and down children’s slippery slides and also takes hold of the protective bite sleeve with his German Shepherd brother, PD Quinn, albeit with a smaller bite training arm. Their handler, Sergeant Sean Baxendell, has affectionately nicknamed the duo Bert and Ernie and says the pair love working and playing together.


PD Larry

PD Larry is a QPS bred Labrador born in December 2012 and is trained to detect the scent of human remains and drowned victims. With three of his brothers currently serving as QPS Drug Detection dogs, it was only a matter of time before PD Larry honed his particular skill.

His handler, Sergeant Warren Gates, is also teamed with Drug Detection PD Turk who is PD Larry’s cousin. The dynamic duo are regularly caught playing tug-a-war with their toys and are inseparable when not working.


PD Prue

PD Prue will turn two this November and has been bred by the QPS. Her father, PD Costa, was a QPS Police Dog and has recently been donated to the NT Police Dog Operations Unit and her mother was a QPS breeding dog Odelle. PD Prue is one of a number of female working dogs currently serving in the QPS.

PD Prue is the third German Shepherd to join handler Senior Constable Chad McLeod’s pack, who also has General Purpose PD Maui and retired General Purpose PD Xero. Having three German Shepherds makes for an interesting household, with Chad describing PD Prue as having a lot of energy and enjoys playing with her brothers.


Queensland | Back to the Brass Helmet: Firefighters recall Brisbane’s biggest blazes

The historic fire events that shaped the face of Brisbane have been immortalised in a 10-week video series produced by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES).

Back to the Brass Helmet is a collection of short features documenting some of the city’s biggest blazes and the heroes who fought them, using archival photographs, film stocks and video footage.

QFES Commissioner Katarina Carroll said each webisode brought to life the thoughts and recollections of firefighters and their families, as they recalled their roles in fires at iconic Brisbane locations, including Paddington Tram Depot, The Woolstore and Whiskey Au Go-Go.

“Combining historic facts with modern-day spaces, Back to the Brass Helmet will define the times that were – where buildings once stood and heroes once fought – told by the people who lived through it all,” Ms Carroll said.

“The series not only takes us back through time with invaluable footage and photographs, but is an opportunity to preserve living history by allowing past and present members of the fire service to share the stories that shaped a city.

“It is a testament to the incredible sacrifices our firefighters have made, and continue to make, to protect our communities.”

The episodes will be released each Wednesday from 22 July, and can be viewed at or on Twitter @QldFES.


Be well. Practice big medicine.