When the Sampson Flat fire tore through eight small peri-urban communities northeast of Adelaide in January 2015 there was one particular group of volunteers working around the clock to help affected animals and wildlife — South Australian Veterinary Emergency Management (SAVEM).
The fire was the most destructive bushfire in South Australia for 30 years, burning 12,569 hectares of public and private land and destroying 24 homes, 146 other structures, five businesses and much livestock.
Over 3500 firefighters battled the blaze, and some 70 volunteers with SAVEM responded to the needs of animals and wildlife.
During an eight week activation at Sampson Flat, SAVEM received more than 750 calls for assistance and treated over 1000 animals including companion animals, horses, livestock and wildlife. The most common injuries treated were burns to feet and hooves, and smoke inhalation.
The not-for-profit group is made up of veterinarians, veterinary nurses, wildlife carers and others with specialist skills like information technology and logistics who volunteer their time, knowledge and skills in emergencies like the Sampson Flat fire.
Understanding the complexities of bushfires and how best to respond to them is essential to SAVEM volunteers and is the reason why SAVEM Commander, Dr Rachel Westcott, attended the sixth International Fire Behaviour and Fuels Conference in May.
Rachel said the conference was a valuable opportunity to share information globally about wildland fire behaviour and fuels.
“We were able to explore the relationship between the physical science of fire behaviour and human behaviour, and decision-making in managing and responding to fire events,” she said.
“This is very useful when training volunteers and making sure everyone conducts themselves safely.”
“I was also able to form linkages with delegates from other states across a range of fire-related disciplines, where there are opportunities to work on projects which can be mutually beneficial.”
Some of the topics covered at the conference included fire behaviour and fire behaviour predictions, fire suppression, incident management, risk management, community engagement, changing environmental triggers, indigenous cultural burning and climate change.
“The learnings from the conference embeds and consolidates our commitment to being at the cutting edge of fire research and practice, and doing so safely,” Rachel said.
“We’re always looking to build our capability and capacity which ultimately delivers better outcomes and brings increased confidence to the communities we serve.”
Rachel’s attendance at the conference was funded by a City of Onkaparinga Community Training and Development Fund grant.
“SAVEM is sincerely grateful and appreciative of the support of the City of Onkaparinga,” Rachel said.
Grants of up to $1500 are available for volunteer members of community groups based within the council area to access training and skill development opportunities.
City of Onkaparinga Mayor Erin Thompson said the Community Training and Development Fund is an opportunity to recognise and support the work of community groups.
“We have a strong tradition of supporting local groups to provide their members with training and development and we recognise the value this provides to our communities,” Mayor Thompson said.
Grant applications are open throughout the year but once the budget has been expended, no further applications will be considered.
For more information on the Community Training and Development Fund including guidelines and how to apply, visit council’s website here.
SAVEM volunteers nurse Linda and Dr Oliver with Sooty.
12 August 2020
The highly anticipated nature-focussed playspace at Wilfred Taylor Reserve in Morphett Vale is now open for families to enjoy.
Whether you’re a prolific reader or you haven’t picked up a book in a while, the council’s librarians are excited to help you find your next page-turner using the personalised online advisory service Bibliophiles.
The council’s Disability Program is providing people aged 18 to 65 with a unique opportunity to participate in group-based social and recreational activities.
29 July 2020
More than 2000 cats and kittens south of Adelaide will soon get the snip — at no cost to their owners — thanks to a joint initiative by the City of Onkaparinga and RSPCA South Australia.
20 July 2020
A recent meeting between the Governor of South Australia and City of Onkaparinga’s mayor and CEO looked at how communities are coping with the strain of COVID-19.
8 July 2020
A zero per cent rate increase for Onkaparinga ratepayers in 2020-21 was adopted last night with council’s Budget and Annual Business Plan.
7 July 2020
Twenty Onkaparinga community infrastructure projects are being put forward to take advantage of $2.46 million in federal COVID-19 stimulus funding.
22 June 2020
Remembering the life Ray Gilbert, celebrated former City of Onkaparinga mayor and tireless community volunteer.
A city-wide review of City of Onkaparinga’s local built heritage places will take place for the first time since council was formed in 1998.
9 June 2020
City of Onkaparinga’s Michael Feszczak took out an inaugural award at the State Government’s annual Volunteers Day ceremony last night.
27 May 2020
City of Onkaparinga has unveiled a $3.1 million redevelopment proposal for Port Noarlunga Sports Ground to cater to the region’s growing sporting population.
25 May 2020
Council has released two draft plans that will help shape Onkaparinga for the next decade or more, and it wants residents to have their say.
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