Community creates Emergency Network in aftermath of severe storms

Member News image Hill and Ridge Emergency Network Planning Day (Credit: Patrick Rychner)


In the aftermath of the 2021 storms the Red Hill Fire Brigade worked with local agencies and residents to create the Hill and Ridge Emergency Network.


The Network has been meeting regularly since October 2023 and brings together community groups, business owners, educators, agency representatives and local emergency services to improve community knowledge and skills to prepare and respond to disaster events.

Red Hill Fire Brigade Captain Sam Norris said the area was impacted by a major storm in October 2021.

“We lost power and all communications for between four and seven days. People couldn’t call Triple Zero and so the brigade and all the locals banded together,"  Samuel said.

“We cleared roads and made access for emergency services to get into Red Hill. The community did a great job but there were gaps in the initial response that we thought this network could fix. That was the trigger point for it.

“In the last event, we had a woman who had just had twins who were under a week old and she was stuck in her house for five days with no power. We also had a few elderly people who spent up to seven days on their own.

“When we lost power, no one had water either so it was important that we found all these vulnerable people in the community and then created a way to help them."

Recently, the Network held a community emergency planning day to launch a collective and local approach to disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.

Representatives from Red Hill and Main Ridge brigades, as well as Hastings and Sorrento SES, Mornington Peninsula Shire Council and various community groups, worked hand-in-hand to facilitate the successful event that saw 150 locals attend.

Community members gained valuable insight into emergency preparedness and risk through conversations and interactive simulations.

A key component of the day was the creation of local area networks supported by neighbour cards as a way for locals to make connections. A neighbour card is a tool for residents to record contact information and exchange details about emergency plans, local resources and skills.

Twenty-five people signed up on the day of the event to be area leaders. These people will act as points of contact for their area in the event of an emergency and will pass on vital information to other residents to build resilience and communication before, during and after emergencies.

“Each street in Red Hill and Main Ridge will have a point of contact back to the Hill and Ridge Emergency network," Sam said

“That area contact looks after up to 20 properties and helps with people's needs in all the residences that they're looking after.

“If they're without power or a tree is down, or someone is elderly or someone is pregnant, they can quickly pass that information back to us."

Regular community meetings will be held following the Hill and Ridge Emergency Planning Day to keep the network and community engaged.

The Hill and Ridge Network wouldn't exist without the hard work of CFA Community Based Bushfire Management Facilitator Steph de Bruin who has been supporting the community-driven process behind the scenes.


  • Member News imageHill and Ridge Emergency Network Planning Day (Credit: Patrick Rychner)
  • Member News image
Submitted by CFA Media