Volunteer firefighters

Ok Australia, hang on to your hats!

Its only September and we are already seeing bushfires out of control in our northern parts. Teams have been working day and night trying to control these infernos, where in many cases their efforts prove almost futile as house after house is destroyed by the horrific conditions. And this is only the start!

In Australia, the sharing of resources is common between the different agencies with teams moved across the country, and also across the globe as needed, to provide vital support to teams who become exhausted and physically overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work that is needed to try to keep the community safe. Almost to a person, these resources come from our volunteer population, doing their best to support the community, many times at great personal cost in terms of their health and their wellbeing as we ask them to deploy time, and time again throughout the season. And as the season drags on, and the goodwill dissipates it will increasingly be left to a few to maintain the rage.

The Australian Wallabies landed in Japan this morning to start their month long world cup rugby campaign. With them travels the best sports scientists, the best conditioning coaches, the best nutritionists that money can buy. In the world of elite sport, not doing so would be seen as lunacy. The players are their greatest asset and they do everything in their power to ensure that they are always prepared and recovered for the next training session, the next game and hopefully to bring the world cup back to Australia.

My question to each agency then, and those taking a pay check to ensure “wellbeing” of their people is this – Are you doing everything in your power to ensure that these tactical athletes are treated as we treat our elite athletes or is it simply enough to provide them with a bottle of water and maybe some yoga?

Are you monitoring their workload? Are you ensuring that they are properly recovered before you send them back into the breach? Are you providing them with the best chances of staying healthy and well in the stifling heat of the Australian summer.We wouldn’t deploy with fire trucks or helicopters that weren’t subject to strict maintenance schedules.. why are our people any different? And I know it costs money but so does that shiny new helicopter or drone that you so proudly show off on the news.

The science is out there. The tools to monitor our people exists. All we need now is the people in those positions who spend the money and make the decisions to accept that maybe, just maybe there is a better way to look after our people.


  1. Love it Doc, I know we have made incredible strides forward in the first responder community with this, but we still have so far to go! I cannot wait for this to be as common in our community as it is in the US Military and other countries around the globe. Hoping to catch up to the Australians at some point! Cheers, and keep up the great work!


    1. Thanks Mike for the positive feedback. Its definitely an area that we need to work on, unfortunately the wheels of change turn slowly and are usually driven by critical incidents. All the best.


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