Daniel writing on a whiteboard smiling

Help and hope at hand when emergencies strike

Without a doubt, Australians know tough weather. From bushfires and tropical cyclones through to recent storms in Adelaide and flooding in Victoria and central New South Wales.

One thing all these events have in common is the fantastic volunteer support they receive when disaster strikes.

Providing plenty of volunteer support are the various State Emergency Services teams (SES). Daniel Rianto, a staff member at the Department of Human Services, is one of those SES volunteers and was recently on hand to help out in the floods that affected Forbes, NSW.

“I was the Operations Officer for the local Incident Management Team (IMT) and was responsible for a team who helped manage various resources,” Daniel explains.

“We received requests for assistance from the public and allocated available resources such as specialty vehicles, sandbags and people where necessary.

“It often involved prioritising assets to various jobs that came through as not all resources are available all the time.”

This type of logistics work came with its own challenges according to Daniel.

“It was important to be sensitive to the locals’ needs. The majority of the locals’ livelihood was farming and they relied on their livestock to survive, while others affected were retirees who had nowhere else to go.

“The work even involved the odd rescue of a tourist from overseas, who did not understand it’s not safe to drive through flood waters.

“And as much as you want to make everyone happy, the reality is resources are always limited. It means making tough decisions – there are trade-offs.

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But despite the challenges and hard times, it’s a role Daniel relishes.

“Overall, it’s brilliant,” he said. “I originally got involved because I wanted to use my transferrable skills and experience from IT and administration to help out where I could. So I signed up in 2015 to help with operations providing IT and administration support.

“It’s given me the chance to help out my local community, learn new skills such as using a chain saw, flood rescue, traffic control and first aid, just to name a few. And of course, I’ve made plenty of new friends.

Daniel has helped out during a number of major incidences that have affected Sydney and New South Wales. He considers himself fortunate that the department is great at providing time off for volunteers to go out and help.

With recent Western NSW floods, coming from Sydney, Daniel was fortunate to be given some time to notify his managers of the request for assistance and be sent out to Forbes, Condobolin, Euabalong, Deniliquin.

When an emergency is local, volunteers provide a courtesy notification to their managers (who may also be SES volunteers) and head out to respond to the job.

“I’ve had the opportunity to support Sydney through its many storms and flood events including the Kurnell storm, the Sydney Floods, and King Tides in June.

“I ran Operations for StormFront 2016 – an exercise on skill maintenance, I helped out with the Blackmores Running festival providing traffic control and first aid, and much more. I love it!”

With the emergency season upon us, Daniel is involved in broadcasting warnings as early as possible to prepare the public and the volunteers.

“When an emergency is declared we need to respond. Throughout the year, in addition to regular meetings, volunteers also undergo skills maintenance to practice and keep up to date on current standards.

“Some emergencies that SES respond to are road crash rescues, flood rescues, and medical emergencies”.

“Giving back to the community is a great feeling and the appreciation is returned in many ways.

More information
  • Read more information about your State Emergency Services by searching for the website of your state or territory’s SES.
  • You can also follow their respective Facebook and Twitter accounts for live updates.