January 2009 - Page 8

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Seamless Integration

 
 

Flynn Comes In

 
 

The state's fire-fighting capabilities were significantly bolstered with the addition of an aircrane water bomber called Flynn.

Named after John Flynn, the founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, this high volume aircraft is capable of carrying 7,500 litres of water.  It was put to good use during the recent fire at Proper Bay near Port Lincoln where it was involved in 20 drops.

A local resident described Flynn's maiden performance in SA when helping to battle the fires that threatened the town.

The Flynn Helitank in action.
 

"This magnificent machine filled up at DK Quarries in under a minute and extinguished the fire before it came down the hill and spread further," she said.

"For three hours it went back and forth - it was truly a sight to see... without the two planes and this godsend it would have been history repeating itself."

The Erikson Aircrane was commissioned by the Premier in late December and amongst a record fleet of 15 fire-fighting aircraft that will improve the capacity and flexibility of the fire services to respond to potentially threatening fires.  This is the first time that the Erikson Aircrane has been based in South Australia during a fire season, without having to be flown in from interstate.

 

 

Heatwave - A Different Kind of Operation

 

Everyone in the Sector is quite used to the State Emergency Service taking the lead role in storms and floods as they impact South Australia, but over recent days, the SES has been at the forefront of all activities relating to the heat wave.  Normally SES volunteers are out there providing direct services to the public, but this time the main effort came from the small team of paid staff, while SES volunteers handled some 400 calls for damaged or fallen trees.

As the Control Agency for Extreme Weather, SES requested a State Emergency Centre (SEC) briefing on Wednesday 28 January; just ahead of the heat wave to ensure that agencies required to manage this event were working on the same 'sheet of music' despite the absence of a detailed heat wave plan.  This strategy was supported by SA Police (SAPOL) and all of the other agencies, and significantly lifted the effort on public information, community advices and warnings.

By Saturday 31 January, everyone was on board with the strategies developed by a multi-agency planning team, and the full weight of Government and emergency services was very effective in getting strong and clear messages to the community through a broad range of media.  Certainly for many South Australians, the heat wave was simply a normal summer, but for those at risk and vulnerable to such an event across Adelaide and the settled areas, the communication strategy was an important project.

Right now SES is leading a huge effort to rapidly develop and refine effective heatwave management arrangements and communication strategies as part of the Extreme Weather Plan.  This would not be possible without the invaluable support of the other agencies such as Health, Community Services and Police, and the assistance of many other players.

SES is a small team for such a large challenge, but right from the very first SEC briefing, Commissioner David Place stepped forward to offer assistance, and the staff of SAFECOM rallied to help SES cope with the load.  This response to a major community threat is a textbook example of the benefits of the Sector working together, and the support that SAFECOM can provide.

To David and all the staff at SAFECOM, a heartfelt thanks.

  Stuart Mcleod Signature

Stuart Macleod ESM
Chief Officer SASES

 

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