Constant Push to Improve and Expand – Ben Abbott, Veteran, Fire Fighter

Disaster Relief Australia | January 2022

ben abbott

I found Disaster Relief Australia when I was searching for ways to get more involved with humanitarian aid. I had been involved with medical volunteering agencies, but when the focus shifted from international travel to domestic only, I thought DRA sounded great for me.

As a career Fire Fighter and ex-Navy Medic, I’ve always found myself working in emergency settings. The nature of the work is reactive to a crisis and once the crisis has passed we move on to the next task. Being involved in the disaster recovery stage is new for me. I have found that it can be more emotional than my day-to-day calls.

When out with DRA you form a connection with the resident and their family that the team is working with that day. A chance to hear their story, which is just as beneficial for them as it is for us. In the last year of volunteering, I can’t say I have had one specific moment that stands out as the most rewarding. My favourite part of deploying though is at the end of a workday, when everyone is exhausted yet we all have smiles on our faces because we’ve worked as hard as we could and hopefully made a difference in someone’s life. That is probably the reason that even when it is 40 degrees and I am swinging a chainsaw, sweating like there is no tomorrow and melting that I keep coming back.

DRA is a bit different from other volunteer organisations I know of. Apart from the fact that we are veteran-led, the difference that stands out is the constant push to improve and expand in all areas. We have a large skill base throughout our membership and as we find more ways to use these skills, we adapt and offer more to the community.

The training opportunities that I have seen offered to existing and new members has been great. I can’t wait to see where we’ll be in another 5 years. As the first Operations Manager for the WA team, I have been lucky enough to work with an awesome DRT while we have learnt our roles, improved our systems and work outputs. When the time comes to move on from this position, I would hope that as a leadership team we have created a solid platform for the next leadership group.

Where do I see myself within DRA in 3 years? Hopefully out on the tools somewhere getting dirty.