Category Archives: Victoria

Victoria | Hero firefighters honoured for saving family from burning home

From left: Leading Firefighter Robert Thomas, Leading Firefighter Ross Wenlock, Firefighter Michael Poore, Station Officer Dean Opie and Chief Officer Peter Rau.
From left: Leading Firefighter Robert Thomas, Leading Firefighter Ross Wenlock, Firefighter Michael Poore, Station Officer Dean Opie and Chief Officer Peter Rau.
Four MFB firefighters have been formally acknowledged for their heroism, saving a Melbourne family from their burning home.

In the early evening of 5 November 2013, a crew from St Albans Fire Station – Station Officer Dean Opie, Leading Firefighter Ross Wenlock, Leading Firefighter Robert Thomas and Firefighter Michael Poore – attended a house fire on Caxton Avenue in Kings Park.

On arrival they found the house had been deliberately set alight and a woman and children were still inside and trapped.

A teenage boy, who had managed to escape, quickly directed firefighters to the rear of the property where they could see a mother and her two young daughters screaming for help and struggling for air in a house rapidly filling with smoke.

Although the window had been smashed, thick bars prevented the firefighters from being able to easily access the family.

Station Officer Opie and his crew decided to attempt a dangerous rescue.

They entered the home and started to hose down the ferocious flames, providing them passage to the room where the family was trapped. Through the smoke, LFF Thomas and Firefighter Poore located the woman and her daughters, aged three and four, grabbed them under their arms and dragged them to safety.

It was at this point they realised the mother was almost six months pregnant. She was administered oxygen by firefighters until Ambulance Victoria arrived on scene.

Today Chief Officer Peter Rau presented the crew with Chief Officer’s Commendation, and said that without their heroic actions there would have been four lives lost that day.

Victoria | Paramedic awarded international scholarship

A MICA paramedic has been awarded a scholarship to travel to the USA to benchmark Ambulance Victoria cardiac arrest management against world’s best practice.

Clinical Support Officer Michelle Murphy applied for the scholarship through the Emergency Services Foundation, which was set up after the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires to help operational emergency service personnel undertake advanced studies or training which will contribute to their respective organisations.

Michelle hopes the study tour will help to inform Ambulance Victoria on current cardiac arrest management trends in other EMS services and lead to improved survival for cardiac arrest patients in Victoria.

‘Ambulance Victoria cardiac arrest outcomes data currently show Victoria has one of the best cardiac arrest survival rates around the world but we’re always looking for ways to continue to improve,’ Ms Murphy said.

‘The survival rates of people across Victoria who have suffered cardiac arrests have increased significantly in the past decade.

‘In part that’s due to the rate of bystander CPR and the use of automated external defibrillators (AED) by members of the public increasing tenfold in the past 10 years. We have one of the highest rate of bystander CPR of anywhere in the world.

‘We have also encouraged community groups to learn CPR through our 4 Steps for Life program introduced eight years ago.

‘Some cities in the USA have similarly high cardiac arrest survival rates, and I want to benchmark what Ambulance Victoria does to identify similarities and differences.

‘I am keen to study them, to see if there’s anything else we can be doing around community CPR to increase our cardiac arrest survival rates even further.’

Michelle says the scholarship from the Emergency Services Foundation is vital.

‘Without the scholarship this valuable trip wouldn’t be possible. The study trip will hopefully build on our great cardiac arrest survival rates, meaning more Victorians will return home to their families.’

Victoria | Monash University student receives Ambulance Victoria commendation

Paramedics presented a Monash University student with an Ambulance Victoria commendation for her lifesaving efforts at a serious crash in Donvale earlier this year.

18-year-old Andrew Vagias suffered head injuries when his car crashed into a power pole in Reynolds Road on June 17.

20-year-old final year Monash University paramedic student Cristina Courtney stopped to help Andrew who was unconscious, trapped and in critical condition.

‘I had a first aid kit in my car so I ran out with that and jumped into the passenger seat next to Andrew,’ Cristina said.

‘I got a bystander to sit in the car behind Andrew and hold his neck still for spinal protection. I checked his airway, ensured that he was breathing and had a pulse.

“I then started taking his blood pressure, pulse, and listened to his chest,’ Christina said.

Paramedics arrived soon after. They had to reinflate Andrew’s collapsed lung and take over breathing for him.

Today was the first time Cristina has seen Andrew since the crash.

‘It’s just the best feeling, I can’t describe it,’ she said.

‘Considering what state he was in it’s just so amazing that he’s here.’

Cristina said it’s inspired her to make a difference as a paramedic.

‘It’s really inspired me, and especially seeing how hard the other paramedics worked was just amazing. They did everything they could for him. They were just incredible. It was really inspiring.’

Andrew is undergoing rehabilitation as he recovers and is thankful for Cristina’s efforts.

‘I was blessed. The fact that she got to me so quickly, I was blessed. A minute later, who knows what could have happened,’ Andrew said.

Intensive care paramedic Peter Godwin was so impressed by Cristina’s efforts, he nominated her for an Ambulance Victoria commendation.

‘When Cristina got there Andrew was slumped over and not breathing very well,’ Peter said.

‘By clearing the airway and allowing him to be able to breathe on his own again that’s been able to get him to the point he’s at now,’ Peter said.

Victoria | Ready to respond to potential Ebola virus threat

Victoria is well prepared if a case of Ebola Virus Disease should be suspected and detected, Minister for Health David Davis said today.

“While the risk of importation of Ebola into Victoria is low, Victoria may eventually need to evaluate a suspected case of Ebola in the same way Queensland did last week,” Mr Davis said.

“The Department of Health has developed the Victorian Ebola Virus Disease Response Plan which has now been issued to metropolitan, regional and other health services and stakeholders including general practitioners.

“The plan outlines the exact actions that will be taken by the Department of Health, Commonwealth border agencies, Ambulance Victoria, any health service and in particular the two hospitals that will receive a suspected case.

“The Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) is the designated facility for assessment and management of patients suspected to have a Viral Haemorrhagic Fever such as Ebola virus disease and is fully prepared,” Mr Davis said.

Professor Mike Richards, infectious diseases specialist at the RMH, said the hospital has a Viral Haemorrhagic Fever plan and is equipped to handle such cases.

“The plan requires the patient to be isolated in a single occupancy negative pressure room. Treatment and care would be provided by staff trained to use infection control precautions including specific personal protective equipment,” Professor Richards said.

“The RMH has held joint briefing sessions with the Department for staff and undertaken successful exercises in the careful handling of a potential suspected case.”

The Royal Children’s Hospital will provide care for children aged under 16 years.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Rosemary Lester, has today updated an existing Alert which provides a link to the Victorian Ebola Virus Disease Response Plan.

“The plan provides information to safeguard the health of a suspected case and of staff caring for a case,” Dr Lester said. “The plan contains a simple set of steps frontline clinicians can take should a suspected case present at their service after returning from an affected country.

“Extensive border control measures are in place including questionnaires for people returning from affected countries, and Melbourne Airport is prepared to respond to a suspected case.

“All people returning from affected countries are given a card telling them to look out for symptoms for 21 days and to attend an emergency department or GP if they do become unwell.

“In response to the identification of the West African outbreak of Ebola virus disease, the Department has updated its protocols and plans in line with current evidence regarding the outbreak and actions required to prevent transmission of infection.

“Australia has one of the best border protection systems in the world checking people who are unwell in flight and at the airport.

“Ebola virus disease is a notifiable and quarantinable disease in Australia,” Dr Lester said.

Transportation of suspected cases by ambulance will require paramedics to use personal protective equipment which is standard issue on Victorian ambulances.

Ambulance Victoria chief executive officer Greg Sassella said well-developed plans and procedures were in place to manage complex or ongoing medical emergencies.

“Ambulance Victoria’s plans for such an event were tested and proven during our successful response to the 2009 H1N1 Influenza outbreak,” Mr Sassella said.

“We have had processes in place in preparation for receiving an Ebola case since the Chief Health Officer issued the initial alert and we have been actively involved in the development of the Victorian Ebola Virus Disease Response Plan.”

Management of suspected or confirmed cases is through supportive treatment and isolation.

The Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory has secure containment facilities and is equipped and prepared to test for Ebola virus disease.

Mr Davis said so far the Ebola virus disease outbreak has been confined to a few West African countries.

“But there is always the possibility that a traveller returning from West Africa could be infectious and bring the disease into Australia,” Mr Davis said.

Victoria | Mental health first aid training for local communities

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training is to be offered to members of community-based organisations across the state so that the early signs of mental ill-health can be recognised and acted on.
Minister for Mental Health Mary Wooldridge said the Victorian Coalition Government’s $350,000 training package will give people the skills and capacity to help someone who is developing a mental illness until professional help is available.
“Mental Health First Aid International will be funded to deliver training to organisations which interact with a large number of community members, such as sporting clubs, men’s sheds and other community groups,” Ms Wooldridge said.
“Expressions of interest for the training will be targeted at non-government organisations and open to community groups such as local cricket or netball clubs or men’s sheds.”
Other groups who will be eligible for the training may be in rural and regional parts of the state where there is more limited access to mental health services.
Community organisations have the choice of applying for Instructor training which accredits people to deliver the standard 12-hour training course to members of their own organisations in their own community, or for the standard 12-hour mental health first aid training course for those interested in being trained in first aid. Similar courses are available specifically for individuals who deal primarily with young people.
“Training will be rolled out in communities from later in the year, once the expression of interest process has been finalised,” Ms Wooldridge said.
Expressions of interest are now open until Monday 6 October and can be accessed from www.health.vic.gov.au/mentalhealth or by e-mailing mhfa@health.vic.gov.au

Victoria | Oscar 1 shines at Mine Rescue competition

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CFA’s Oscar 1 Emergency Response Brigade again successfully competed against the professional company mine rescue teams at the 22nd Victorian Mine Rescue Competition held in Bendigo 29-31 August. 

Oscar 1 won the Search & Rescue event and were placed fifth overall. North Parkes (NSW) won the overall competition.

The event was held at CFA Huntly Training Ground on Friday (BA Practical & Theory exercises and Welcome Ceremony) and the Fosterville Gold Mine on Saturday and Sunday (Search & Rescue, Rope Rescue, First Aid, Firefighting, Team Skills and Team Challenge).

The Fosterville mine is an operational mine with 25km of tunnels up to 800m below ground level; it’s 1 in 7 gradient tests the leg muscles. The Firefighting and Search & Rescue Events were held about 100 metres underground.

Ten teams competed; six from Victoria, Crocodile Gold from Fosterville and Stawell, Mandalay Resources Costerfield, CFA Oscar 1, CGT Ballarat, Estate Services Yallourn and four from NSW, Cadia Valley, Cowel, Peak Gold and North Parks.

Oscar 1 is the only volunteer Mine Rescue Team in Australia, set up originally to provide rescue capability in the abandoned Central Victorian Goldfields.

Its small group of underground responders were put to the test as they lost five members to other teams (their employers): two who were team managers (Costerfield and Ballarat), one the Team Captain of Fosterville, and two who were the scenario designers and chief adjudicators of two of the events.

Oscar 1 member Adam Stonham, the Safety Officer at Costerfield mine, put together the mine’s first rescue team this year and they finished eighth. Fellow brigade member Rob Marsh brought the Ballarat team home in third place.

CFA Executive Director of Operational Training & Volunteerism Lex de Man attended on Sunday and was escorted underground by Oscar 1 Brigade Captain David Priest to see the Firefighting exercise, meet CFA volunteers and generally see what one CFA brigade does that is different to the rest of CFA’s surface dwellers.

Captain David Priest said, “the Annual Mine Competition provides the opportunity to test our brigade against the professional mine rescue teams, to see where our skill levels are, exchange ideas, learn new techniques and developments from the unique gathering of industry experts, and generally confirm that we are there with the rest of the teams. Participating builds our credibility in the industry. Oscar 1 is respected around Australia by other mine rescue teams.”

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Victoria | New field operations vehicles for CFA

Seven high-tech communications trucks worth more than $300,000 each are being deployed across the state to improve communications during major incidents and emergencies.

CFA’s new Field Operations Vehicles will be set up at large scale incidents – such as bushfires and factory fires, to allow better communications between the fireground and incident control centres.

CFA Chief Officer Euan Ferguson said the state-of-the-art vehicles will relay high-quality information from anywhere in the state.

“CFA’s new field operations vehicles will provide incident controllers with real-time information from the fireground, and decisions made in the incident control centre can now be fed back to the field instantly,” Mr Ferguson said.

“I have no doubt these new trucks will prove to be a great advancement in fireground communications.”

“Our crews will be able to run their emergency response from the vehicle, or use it as a central communications point between the incident and control centres across the state.

As well as improved communications, field operations vehicles will provide crews with instant access to CFA’s computer networks, fire maps and printing facilities, an on-board weather station, and the versatile vehicles can also be used as a health monitoring station.

“Faster information leads to quicker decisions, from sharing information with our crews on the ground all the way to providing more timely warnings for our communities,” CO Ferguson said.

When in operation the vehicles will be positioned well behind the fireground and testing at Australian Defence Force facilities shows they’re capable of operating in temperatures of over 55 degrees celsius.

“The field operations vehicles have advanced technology on board but have been built with emergencies in mind – they’re very easy to use.

“They can safely operate for over 12 hours on a full tank of diesel and another three hours on the emergency batteries if mains power isn’t available.”

The vehicles have been delivered to Bairnsdale, Golden Square, Inverloch, Mildura, Nillumbik Group and Wendouree, and will be ready for action over the coming months after brigades have received training. Moe South Brigade is expected to receive its in the coming weeks.

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Victoria | SES advises to prepare for wild weather

With a severe weather warning current for most of Victoria, Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES) is asking all Victorians to prepare for potentially damaging and destructive winds.

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a Severe Weather Warning for destructive winds and damaging winds for people in the Wimmera, North Central, North East, South West, Central, West and South Gippsland and East Gippsland forecast districts.

Elevated areas and bayside areas are most likely to experience peak gusts as they build throughout the day and into the evening.
VICSES Deputy Chief Officer Operations Tim Wiebusch asked Victorians to prepare themselves.

“High winds can turn ordinary items from your backyard into airborne hazards. One of the biggest dangers during high winds are items such as trampolines and outdoor settings, including umbrellas, which have the potential to become airborne,” he said.

Mr Wiebusch said there were a few easy steps people could take to reduce the risk of damage to people or property during a storm, such as:

– Check that loose items such as outdoor settings, trampolines and umbrellas are secured

– Stay indoors and away from windows

– Do not park under trees

– Drive to the conditions – there may be debris across the road such as fallen powerlines, trees and tree branches

People should stay informed about their situation by listening to their local emergency broadcaster or viewing warnings on the VICSES or VicEmergency website,” Mr Wiebusch said.

“Victorians are reminded to call 132 500 in a flood storm emergency and Triple Zero (000) in a life-threatening emergency.”

Further information

To view current warnings, visit our Warnings map.

For more information on preparing for storms, visit our StormSafe page.

Victoria | Avoid Father’s Day mishaps

Paramedics are urging men to take care on Father’s Day – whether you are celebrating with the family or doing some renovations with a new power tool.

Last Father’s Day paramedics were called to a number of home renovation accidents including a man who cut his hand with a saw, and a man and his son injured when they were struck by a metal pole as they repaired a garage door opener.

Senior paramedic team manager Sophie Faulkner said some DIY accidents at any time of the year can have horrific consequences.

‘In the past we have seen people killed and seriously injured in backyard and DIY accidents,’’ Ms Faulkner said.

‘Tragically that includes cases where men died after falling from a ladder.

‘Serious injuries can have life-long impacts like a man who was blinded in one eye in an angle grinder accident.

‘Make sure you have necessary safety equipment and don’t take short-cuts. If in doubt, consider getting a professional in to help with the work.’

Last year on Father’s Day paramedics were called to accidents including;

• A man in his 60s who cut his hand with a saw
• A man in his son injured while repairing a garage door when a metal pole fell on them
• A man who injured his hand while repairing a fence at home
• A man wearing thongs standing on a ladder cleaning the car, when he fell from the ladder

It’s also important to take care when enjoying the day with family.

`Last year we saw a man in his 30s hurt when he landed awkwardly while teaching his son to somersault,’ Ms Faulkner said.

‘Some Father’s Day accidents we were called to didn’t need an emergency ambulance. People who suffer minor injuries should consider alternatives like their GP.

‘People should only ever call Triple Zero (000) if they have a medical emergency.

‘If you are suffering chest pain or any other serious medical condition, then certainly call Triple Zero. However if it is something less urgent then just think about whether a doctor, Nurse On Call, a relative or some other service is more appropriate.’

Victoria | VICSES rescue demonstration at Scienceworks

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Scienceworks current temporary exhibition Rescue focuses on the science behind the emergency service, so it was only natural that they asked SES volunteers to come along one weekend to demonstrate some rescue techniques to a live audience. 

Over two days, the team demonstrated the Vertical Z Pulley System which displayed how it’s possible to rescue people who are trapped either below or above a steep or vertical drop.  They also took part in an evacuation stretcher activity.

The activities were extremely well received by Scienceworks visitors, staff and volunteers. The SES crew were described by Scienceworks as being both extremely professional and interacting well with all the audience members.

SES will be back at Scienceworks on Thursday 2 October along with other emergency service organisations for Community Safety Day. The day will consist of displays and demonstrations with each emergency response team showcasing their safety messages. Local community members, schools, businesses and other agencies will be encourage to build community safety partnerships with their local emergency service organisations.

Rescue will be running at Scienceworks until the 5 October 2014.  For more information please visit the Scienceworks website

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