Taking their Sunday morning planning section training session online has been a winner for District 14 volunteers.
The five regulars who attended the Kangaroo Ground Incident Control Centre are now being joined twice a week by between 30 and 95 participants online.
When COVID-19 ended face-to-face training across the state, tech savvy volunteers from the planning section of District 14 Headquarters East were encouraged to keep up the good work via internet conferencing software.
The team of John Cowan, Neil Marshall, Adrian Birch, Stephanie McCall, Mark Gravell and Michael Chapman looked at Zoom and Webex before settling on Microsoft Teams, with technical set-up by the CFA IT team.
The Wednesday night and Sunday morning online sessions started with ICC training for District 14 HQ Brigade East and the Nillumbik & Whittlesea/Diamond Valley Groups, but the participant base quickly broadened.
The sessions are now attracting participants from CFA brigades from all over the state, local councils representatives, SES and DELWP, and the wider audience has brought a wider range of presenters from other emergency services and local government.
By early July, the online sessions had covered 46 topics and had attracted hundreds of emergency services members.
Some presentations benefited from the online format as it had some advantages over face-to-face training. For example, John Cowan's demonstration of the functions of the Bureau of Meteorology’s METEYE using the live feed from the website. This was far easier to follow on a personal computer than in a meeting room with a big screen.
Neil Marshall presented a popular and timely session on the pandemic, based on a similar presentation he gave when the SARS virus was rife in South East Asia.
Russell Manning (DELWP’s Acting Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Loddon Mallee) led a session on the Safety Officer role at a level three fire, complete with an interactive segment drawing on events at the 2020 peat fire at Cape Conran. There was plenty of useful content on fighting a peat fire and the health ramifications brought to the attention of ICC by the Safety Officer.
We had two presentations from Craig Lapsley, one on resilience and recovery the other on aircraft.
Participant feedback allowed some topics to be explored in more detail. A firefighting exercise, with a scenario based on Hurstbridge, highlighted a gap in members’ understanding of the transfer of control and led to a complete session on that topic.
The presentation on Sunday 5 July (our 46th session) given by Lieutenant Heather Scale from Plenty Fire Brigade about the role of the Strike Team Assistant and log taking drew 94 participants. It was a follow-on from Stephanie McCall’s presentation on giving evidence and the importance of good log taking.
The sessions run from 45 to 90 minutes and subjects have included an earthquake exercise, recovery and resilience, community based bushfire engagement, the MERO, aircraft, logistics, communications planning, giving Evidence and the transfer of control.
Subjects coming up included DELWP firefighting techniques, and working with CFA, the role of MERC, local governments' role at emergencies and how they work with CFA where there is a loss of private property.
The sessions can be tailored to suit the participants and give members the opportunity to connect with a wider range of colleagues from CFA and other agencies. They offer something for both ICC and operational members, and the online format saves the participants travel time, and offers the option of sampling a session to see whether it meets your needs without having to face the cold winter weather.
Members who are interested in getting an invitation by email, can contact Captain Mark Gravell at District 14 HQ East at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://register.d14hqe.com.au/