Our QAHS Technical Officer, Mr Brent Egan, was called upon recently by the Government to lend bushfire assistance as part of his duties as an Army Reservist. In less than 48 hours, Brent, along with 2000 army reserve personnel were en route to affected areas.
Training was completed on base in NSW, before being deployed to the different communities. Mr Egan was involved in:
· Clearing over 400 trees from roads and fence lines
· Erecting approximately 12 kilometres of new fencing
· Repairing approximately 4 kilometres of fencing
· Filling over 3000 sandbags and laying several hundred at various properties.
Mr Egan shares his reflections on the experience of serving in the Bushfire Relief Effort:
"My platoon headed to Taree, our primary task was to assist civilian volunteer organisation BlazeAid with recovery/rebuilding. Their primary role is assisting farmers with clearing and building/repairing fence lines. Upon arriving in Taree, the heavens opened up and the rains came. With all the rain, gaining access to the farms was not possible so after a couple days in location our first task on Operation Bushfire Assist was to help the local SES with sandbagging flood affected properties, clearing fallen/dangerous trees, roads, etc.
After a good week of rain we finally got some clearer days and were able to get access to the properties that BlazeAid had on their agenda. Although we were based in Taree, the BlazeAid group we assisted were based in Willawarrin (near Kempsey). We would travel to Willawarrin, work for three days, then head back to Taree for a rest day before heading back that night and repeating the process. While in Willawarrin the local pub owner opened his establishment to us and gave us free lodging, extremely generous considering the size of the pub and number of Reservists that rocked up on his doorstep.
The deluge right after the fires and hot days was perfect for nature to start rebuilding. The mix of barren and burnt trees alongside lush green grass was extremely surreal. The weather was not very co-operative which made it frustrating at times, but all in all, it was a very rewarding and fulfilling trip. I'm extremely grateful to have been able to help out and lend aid in these communities that sorely need it – we barely scratched the surface with our effort, there is so much more to be done. I am also grateful to Mr Ben Young for filling in for me on such short notice and to all Academy staff for your understanding and support this past month."
Thank you Mr Egan for your service to those recovering from the devastating summer bushfires.
Mrs Vanessa Rebgetz