When the call came to accommodate hundreds of firefighters, SES, transiting ADF members engaged in Op Bushfire Assist, the Duntroon Garrison team launched a massive coordinated effort to make sure their guests had everything they might need.
CAPTION: ADFA Director Education and Training Group Captain Jeff Howard presents Queensland Fire and Emergency Services officer Sam Eitz with an ADFA cap as a token of friendship before ADFA’s firefighter-guests left for home. Photo by Corporal Dan Pinhorn. Story by Flying Officer Evita Ryan.
RELATED STORIES: Operation Bushfire Assist 19-20
Within a day, the ADFA gymnasium was set up to accommodate 350 people, with RMC ready to accommodate an additional 76.
Working through a roster system, ADFA trainee officers were also used to provide a central point of contact for the guests – while also assisting ADFA staff with the Year One familiarisation training for 360 new officers.
ADFA executive officer Lieutenant Commander Jon Little said that, to the best of his knowledge, nothing like it had ever been done before at ADFA or RMC.
“It was great to watch our trainee officers apply theoretical lessons in practical applications,” Lieutenant Commander Little said.
“They were required to develop last-minute solutions to uncommon problems, such as dietary requirements presented on the day and pharmacy scripts that needed to be filled late at night when firefighters returned from duty.
“The firefighters – with some being former ADF members – shared their stories and gave the trainees life experiences that we could never give them.”
“Trainees also escorted groups of guests to the cadet’s mess, which was in itself a massive coordinated effort.
“So that we could rotate everyone through, groups had set times to eat at the mess,” Lieutenant Commander Little said.
“And all nine Canberra messes provided cut lunches and hot boxes to firefighters if they didn’t have the opportunity to eat at the mess.”
In total, Canberra messes provided 14,960 meals in support of Operation Bushfire Assist.
Rural Fire Service Queensland officer Sam Eitz said, “Honestly, I don’t think any more could have been done for us”.
“Any questions, any issues we had were met with ‘yes we can get that done’ or ‘yep, we’ll make that happen’, so we felt supported by everyone around us,” Mr Eitz said.
“We can’t thank everyone enough for everything that was done for us while we were there.”