Veterans Benevolent Fund Keeps Veterans Safe as Disaster Season Looms

Disaster Relief Australia | October 2021

In August 2018, Disaster Relief Australia (DRA) came seriously close to suffering a fatality from a heart attack. Brett Burriss, then just 42, returned to the groups base at Dubbo RSL after a long day assisting farmers with drought relief in Western NSW.

A little later in the evening Brett asked a DRA medic if he could have Mylanta for what he thought was indigestion. Fortunately, the experienced medic had other ideas. Typically stoic, and not wanting to make a fuss, Brett had to be convinced to go to the Dubbo Base Hospital where an EKG showed he was in fact having a heart attack. An ambulance rushed Brett to the cardiac unit in Orange where doctors decided it was too risky to operate. He was flown by helicopter ambulance to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney where he underwent open-heart surgery and received a double coronary arterial bypass.

DRA repurposes the skills and experience of military veterans in disaster relief, providing veterans opportunity to find purpose again and grow beyond their military service.

DRA CEO Geoff Evans, stresses, “the truth is Brett would have died in the field the next day, despite our guys being trained in first-aid. Only a defibrillator would have given him a fighting chance”. As DRA moves into increasingly regional and remote areas, the provision of this live-saving device has become essential.

The Veterans Benevolent Fund has generously funded 20 Automatic External Defibrillators (AED’s), for Disaster Relief Australia. The sophisticated, yet easy to use medical devices are a lifesaver that will support veterans as they provide disaster recovery assistance to communities.

The RSL & Services Clubs Association have enjoyed a long-standing bond with DRA. Member clubs have donated regularly to the organisation and its teams across NSW to deliver help and hope to people impacted by natural disasters.