I’m currently our Sydney DRT (disaster relief team) manager. Formerly I was a medic in the Australian Army for 11 years deploying to Papua New Guinea for tidal wave relief in 98, East Timor in 99, and Bougainville in 2002. I’ve now been a firefighter for 14 years with NSW Fire and Rescue.
My experience is that the military is very different to anything that you would do usually. You talk a certain way and act a certain way. To turn that off, it takes a long time – you probably never do.
While on operation, aside from the physical work (which I love), I like that we give our members the opportunity to reflect at the end of each day. This gives everyone the opportunity to share what they saw. In what way it affected them or what way that they oversaw a positive or a negative safety situation that they saw was managed well or wasn’t managed well. It’s a really good debrief, to hear other people’s stories and how they saw it and know that it’s okay to share that story and to participate in a reflection that could help each other through the day’s activities.
After doing deployments overseas, you’re at a bit of a loss. I was surprised and happy at how quickly I felt at home within DRA. The feeling of being able to help someone on their worst day and make it just that little bit better is amazing and what keeps me coming back.