Small village built in 42 hours to house emergency services

BASE CAMP: Rural Fire Service Acting Manager Site Mitigation Support Services Kerry Parkinson and her team at the fully self-contained Base Camp at Wollongbar TAFE campus.
BASE CAMP: Rural Fire Service Acting Manager Site Mitigation Support Services Kerry Parkinson and her team at the fully self-contained Base Camp at Wollongbar TAFE campus. Alison Paterson

FORTY-two hours.

That's all it took for the Rural Fire Service was able to establish a sophisticated and fully operational base camp at Wollongbar TAFE campus to house, feed, shelter and organise hundreds of volunteers and career emergency personnel from the RFS, NSW Fire & Rescue, State Emergency Services and St John' Ambulance, who are here to assist with the flood recovery efforts.

In pouring rain and navigating muddy conditions, the RFS team established a camp with over 50 tents, lighting, hundreds of blankets, pillows, stretchers, chairs and dozens of tables, portable showers and toilets, not to mention a full-blown kitchen, mess hall, offices, first aid / medical tent and decontamination area.

Along with dozens of sleeping tents laid out with military precision, the base camp also contains a huge kitchen, mess hall, showers and toilets, an isolation area for any ill personnel, as well as offices for the operational teams to direct strike teams.

It's as though a small village magically appeared, but in reality, it was all due to hard work, good planning and a desire to look after the people who were arriving in Lismore to help the residents and business owners devastated by the floods.


RFS acting manager site mitigation support services, Kerry Parkinson is in charge of the base camp and she said it was very much a an inter-agency success story.

"We need to acknowledge the assistance from St John's Ambulance and the HAZMAT division of NSW Fire & Rescue were invaluable in establishing the decontamination and managing the ongoing facility," she said.

"Its a real credit Danny and the other guys who have a fabulous job."

Ms Parkinson said her team in Sydney were already undertaking their logistics to provide the camp when the call came through to activate their services.

"From our perspective we were expecting the call as we watched the events unfold in NSW and interstate (as) we are registered with Emergency Management Australia as a base camp supplier," she said.

"So my staff back in Sydney had already started pre-loading the equipment, but we were not expecting a call to establish a camp of this size."

Ms Parkinson said the team which included RFS SMSS supervisor Danny Busch, are all very well trained and had just some off a training exercise where they had out up a base camp in record time at Broken Hill.

"We went for ma weekend of 42 of erecting a base camp to erecting one here in stormy weather," Mr Busch said.

He said it's been a challengie and the RFS aim was to have the camp self-sufficient and not impeding on catering or other services already under pressure to look after people impacted by the floods.

Topics:  lismore floods nsw fire & rescue rural fire serivice wollongbar tafe

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