Australian Red Cross is an NSCA Foundation Corporate Gold member.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.