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Member Spotlight: Australian Red Cross — Emergency Services Victoria

Monday 14, Sep 2020

NSCA Foundation Member Spotlight

 

Australian Red Cross is an NSCA Foundation Corporate Gold member.

Red Cross

 

About Australian Red Cross – Emergency Services Victoria

The Australian Red Cross (Emergency Services Victoria) helps communities prepare for emergencies, provides emergency response services (such as food and water, registration, and psychological first aid), and helps communities recover from emergencies — through services such as field and tele-outreach.

Describe your operations and stakeholders

We use the emergency services industry Australasian Inter-service Incident Management System (AIIMS) in order to structure our incident response operations in an efficient and standardised way. The Commander is responsible for running an incident response and roles, such as the Safety and Wellbeing Officers, report directly to them to reflect their importance. Other Officers (and teams) include Planning, Logistics and Operations. We have an Emergency Operations Centre in North Melbourne, which we recently virtualised due to COVID-19 with the help of technology such as MS Teams, as well as a call centre for the Register.Find.Reunite service and for outbound tele-outreach calls (now also virtualised using a cloud-based call centre service).

Red Cross volunteers getting off a helicopterCan you outline your safety systems, processes, the role people play and culture?

We leverage the corporate OH&S processes and systems used across all Red Cross services nationwide, but then give them an emergency services flavour, such as specific pro forma risk registers, processes and checklists that suit our field operations, which could involve transport by car or air, working in remote areas where utilities are unavailable, or working in flood or fire-affected areas. Afterwards, action reviews help to inform our practices based on lessons learned from previous emergencies.

Can you provide any case study / incident examples?

During the last bushfire season we sent volunteers to remote East Gippsland whereby the only access was by air or sea. As a result, we needed to rapidly bring together and publish safety protocols for travel in non-commercial aircraft, such as Defence Force planes and ships as well as small planes; a form of travel many of our volunteers were not used to. We also monitored the EPA’s real-time air pollution website multiple times a day and sourced and issued P2 masks to ensure the respiratory health of our volunteers.

Red Cross volunteer packing relief supplies

What are the future challenges for Australian Red Cross — in both the short term and long term?

Our periods of activation are now getting longer, as the last fire season proved, and as such we are recruiting for more volunteers (including in Safety and Wellbeing roles) so we can spread the work around more people to ensure our volunteer scan maintain a work-volunteer-life balance.

What initiatives have you been involved in recently in Victoria?

Recently, we have been involved in distributing urgent food relief packages to vulnerable people isolated by COVID-19 and who are unable to shop for various reasons. We have also been making wellbeing calls to people isolated due to COVID-19 people through our tele-outreach service.

What advice would you offer for anyone wanting to build a career in WHS/OHS?

Volunteering with the Red Cross is a great foot in the door if you are interested in a career in Emergency Services, and may lead to opportunities such as paid work at the Red Cross, or jobs with other organisations such as Emergency Management Victoria or as a Municipal Emergency Manager, as some examples. Demonstrated volunteering also helps to bolster resumes and job applications.

What do you enjoy the most about being an NSCA Foundation member?

The Work Health and Safety team have found that being an NSCA Foundation member provides access to a vast array of safety resources and webinars that address the current issues.

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY

Australian Red Cross — Emergency Services Victoria are currently seeking for volunteer safety officers to assist activities during times of activation. This is an exciting opportunity for anyone looking to grow their experience and use their skills and knowledge to make a real difference to the lives of people and communities. To find out more and apply for the role, visit here.