Today I want to share with you the importance of our comradery. As members of an emergency service organisation, we experience many different emotional events, both joyous and tragic.
Last week an event rocked our neighbouring nation, and in turn, reverberated throughout the world. Here in Australia we had people close by who had family and friends experiencing this event at close quarters.
Currently we have major fires in the east of the state that continue to be addressed, with respondents on hand to assist from throughout Australia and a group from New Zealand.
I am proud of the way CFA, in collaboration with our emergency services partners, came together to support our friends from New Zealand, and others, during this devastating event.
Being so far from home was hard enough, without the addition of a tragic event. CFA provided full access for our New Zealand colleagues to our Member Assistance Program (MAP) to ensure all the support was available. Our team activated a regional response plan in Gippsland and activated wellbeing support in the Incident Control Centres, including the Yinnar staging area where the New Zealanders were based.
This experience again highlights the diversity of our organisation and our capability to support each other. Most importantly, as the weeks develop, people may feel impacted in different ways and some may require extra support.
It is normal to feel affected by events such as what happened in Christchurch and the recent fires in Victoria. People might find they have become more irritable or have been experiencing sleeplessness. It is also common to replay images in your mind after seeing them in the media.
Recognise and acknowledge that you may need to process what you have been feeling with someone, whether it be a friend, family member or professional. Needless to say, it is important to ensure you are doing everything you can to look after your wellbeing by:
- Ensuring you get enough sleep
- Eating well
- Avoiding drugs and alcohol
- Spending time with your loved ones
- Doing things you enjoy
- Getting back into usual routine
- Limiting exposure to distressing media coverage
For more tips on coping suggestions please read the tip sheet ‘Coping Methods after traumatic events’ on CFA Intranet/Brigades Online.
These events are a timely reminder for us all in CFA to hold firm to our values of respect and togetherness. Take the time to look around and ensure you are connecting to those around you.
If you notice that someone is not okay or is a bit off from their usual self, encourage that they reach out to friends, family or professional support.
The CFA Wellbeing Support Line is available 24/7 to all CFA staff, volunteers and their immediate family members – 1800 959 232.
Further reading: Walking Off The War Within – register now for 23 March