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KAREN NAYLOR Karen is now the Emergency Services Co-ordinator, after taking up the role in mid 2016.

The Tuesday morning of the fire, I was up at the Shire

and process bills to do with keeping the services going in

over a house – a farmer is protecting his property, but he

admin office when I got a call from Lonica Collins, who

the field. By 9.30am things had progressed and I took the

requires assistance – can anyone help him?”

was our Emergency Services Coordinator. She said to

minutes for the local emergency management meeting,

me, “Kaz, I’m a bit under the pump here – do you reckon

before another meeting was held just an hour later.

you could ask Cill if it’s ok and could you come down and give me a hand at the DFES office?”

At one stage, one of the dozers got bogged, so Brian was hovering over that and calling through the on-

From about 10.30am things really escalated and the

ground actions, as the guys on the ground have gone

two-ways and phones just kept going off. Loni asked

in and pretty much saved the dozer driver. Brian finally

At the time, I was employed as the Shire’s Project

me to help man the two-way and DFES phone – and this

relayed, “The dozers bogged, they’ve got the driver out.”

Reporting Officer, so the call was outside my usual work

became my main role until about 9pm that night.

Brian was mainly dealing with the Merivale fire at that

role.

point. During the afternoon, over the two- way we have During that time, I received and recorded over 200 phone

got a call from Cascade.

After her call things started to heat up quite quickly. I got

calls and two-way conversations that came through from

down to the office at around 8.30am and there were quite

the fire grounds. The ones that really stood out for me

The caller stated, “We need the helicopter, we need it

a few people there already.

were the two-way conversations, several of which I can

NOW in Cascade – I don’t know where this thing’s

clearly recall.

heading.”

down to the office I was filled in further. On the Sunday

One conversation occurred whilst we had Brian in the

It was very hectic. Obviously as soon as something

14 fires had started in the area, and as of that morning

helicopter over the fire ground. Someone from the ground

critical came across it needed to be relayed on. To me,

there were still four that were uncontrolled. Two major fires

had said ‘the fire height is about 70 to 100 metres.’ Brian

pretty much anything that anyone said during that period

were in National Parks and under the control of DPAW.

had quickly cut in to reply, “No – it’s about 100 to 200

was critical. The point was to try and decipher what

The two we were mainly looking at were the Merivale and

metres.”

was a little bit more important than something else – like

I knew the fires had started on Sunday and once I got

the Cascade fires.

danger to life. Another account was once again with Brian in the

Initially on Tuesday the Merivale fire was our main

helicopter – all of a sudden, the call ‘Get out, get out

I had another couple of runners that helped me in the

concern as it was close to private property and houses,

now!’ came across the radio.

office on that day – and as soon as something came

until the Cascade fire started to run after lunch. My first job after I walked in was to continue ordering food

pg 64 | karen naylor

up I’d run out and get them to write down notes. Being Another call from Brian came as he flew over a house.

close we were lucky that we were able to quickly relay

He comes onto the two-way saying “Guys, I’m hovering

the messages to the guys that needed to know.

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Our Bushfire Recovery Story  

"Our Bushfire Recovery Story" is a memoir of community strength & resilience. As part of the Recover, Rejuvenate, Restore Project, an invita...

Our Bushfire Recovery Story  

"Our Bushfire Recovery Story" is a memoir of community strength & resilience. As part of the Recover, Rejuvenate, Restore Project, an invita...