A group of skilled Northern Territory Emergency Service (NTES) volunteers travelled to Canberra to compete in the 2015 National Disaster Rescue Challenge (NDRC), 5-6 September 2015.
The NTES volunteer representatives included: Kate Thompson, Brian Ch’ng and Chris Fishlock (Darwin Volunteer Unit), Alycea Wong and Dean Procter (Palmerston Volunteer Unit), Jamie Barnett (Katherine Volunteer Unit) and Team Leader, Andy McKay (Alice Springs Volunteer Unit). The volunteers were also accompanied by Seth Dugdell (NTES Area Manager), Andrew Warton (NTES Director), while Keith Lewis (Area Manager) from Alice Springs assisted as one of the judges.
The theme of the 2015 NDRC was ‘Interstate Deployment ‐response to severe storm damage’. The Challenge Stands reflected this theme in realistic scenarios that required combinations of individual and team skills learned in General Rescue and Storm Damage operations.
The NDRC comprised of seven Challenge Stands varying from Land Search, Urban Search and Rescue to Area Staging Management and Storm Damage Operations, which were conducted over two days by Emergency Service Teams representing seven States and Territories.
Team work was essential and every member of the NTES team worked together to achieve great results including winning the ‘Staging Area Management’ stand. The NTES team worked hard and received lots of positive feedback from judges having been mere minutes shy of completing multiple stands when ‘time’ was called.
Jamie Barnett admits, “Day one was a steep learning curve for the NTES team, most of which had minimal combined training sessions. Adjusting to the artificial environment with time limits and being watched was also difficult at first.”
Many of the volunteers honed their skills over the previous four weeks during training in a range of skills from first aid, casualty management, storm damage and basic rescue techniques. Not all participants could train together due to geographical distances in the Territory.
Jamie went on to describe day two, “The team quickly bonded under Andy's leadership and became more fluid and faster with every stall we competed in.”
It is a real credit to the volunteers winning the Area Staging Management Stand; preparing and setting up a staging area ready for occupation by incoming response teams. This accomplishment demonstrates the knowledge, skills, flexibility and problem solving ability this team was able to pull together under competition conditions.
Team Manager, Seth Dugdell commented on the importance of this competition, “The NT Team came back in very high spirits having won an award and were proud to represent the Northern Territory. The team learned valuable lessons that can be shared with other volunteer members to improve skills and response methods.
The volunteers found the stands both challenging and rewarding. They increased their own knowledge and understandings through participant discussions with their team mates, judges and fellow competitors.
The volunteers wish to extend their appreciation to Team Manager Seth Dugdell for coordinating the NTES Team's training and travel and to Andrew Warton for making it possible for NTES to be represented at this national event.
The ACT State Emergency Service (ACTSES) were great hosts who provided well designed scenarios in the Challenge Stands as well as top quality accommodation, food and transport around Canberra. Sincere thanks are extended to all ACTSES volunteers who assisted over the weekend, but in particular the drivers (and honorary NTES members) Rohan and Tom who went out of their way to accommodate the requests from the NTES volunteers to see the sights of Canberra as well as transporting them between Challenge Stalls and formal events.