Firefighters debrief after floods

August 11, 2023 BY

Debrief: About 40 fire brigade members from the Eppalock group met recently at a peer support function. Photo: SUPPLIED

A RECENT flood recovery event at Munari Wines gave Eppalock Group volunteer firefighters a chance to share their stories from last year’s floods.

CFA co-ordinator peer support Loddon Mallee region Gloria Turner said it was an opportunity to check in and see how those members were coping in the aftermath.

“We wanted to thank them for their fantastic efforts as well,” she said.

The Captain and Lieutenant from the Rochester Fire Brigade also gave a presentation.

“For the boys from Rochester to be able to tell their story to the people who actually assisted them at the time, that was quite emotional,” Ms Turner said.

“The flooding happened on both sides of the river, but the on other side where people don’t drive through there was only one firey with one small fire truck.

“So he, with one other civilian, had to battle to save many lives that night.”

Ms Turner went to both Rochester and Echuca last year.

“Peer support are deployed with CFA strike teams sent into situations like the New South Wales and Gippsland fires, or this flooding event,” she said.

“After the black summer fires, where having have peers imbedded in strike teams was so successful, we now go to any incident.

“We were sent in, me and one other peer, to Echuca. But first we’d been at Rochester that Saturday morning after it all happened.

“Then we spent seven days up in Echuca, and then we had rotating teams of peers going through until they weren’t needed anymore.”

A CFA peer support officer’s role is centred around well-being.

“We make sure we go round and are in contact with crews during the day,” Ms Turner said. “For example, we might take food to them, or we might be ferrying them to medical assistance.

“In some instances, we were having to go through flood waters.

“We would see what was going on with the army, the police and everybody so that we could be on top of what was happening with our crews.

“But we’re also cross agency, in those kinds of disasters we work with whoever needs us.

“We’re trained in psychological first aid, so it’s all about keeping our members safe and getting the services for them that they need at the time or after the event.”