2019 NSW RESCA Finalists

Fire + Rescue NSW Finalists

DAVID CROSS– Station Commander – Bankstown Fire Station

David Cross is the Station Commander at Bankstown Fire Station and has been with Fire and Rescue NSW for 29 years. He has been stationed at Kogarah, Hurstville, City of Sydney, Chester Hill and Bankstown Fire Stations. David has many credits to his record, including the rescue of three people from a house fire in Greenacre, which won him Unit Commendation for Meritorious Service. In addition, not only has David fought bushfires, earning the Commissioner’s Commendation for Courageous Action, but he has also operated internationally. He was deployed to Japan in the wake of the 2011 tsunami as an Urban Search & Rescue Team Leader, and was awarded the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal. Outside of David’s Fire and Rescue work, he continues to serve the community through his active roles in Surf Lifesaving.

MATTHEW PRIDHAM Technical Recue Instructor/ Basic Life Support – Dubbo

When Matthew Pridham, an Education and Training officer with Fire and Rescue NSW, based at Dubbo, learned that a childhood friend had been diagnosed with the crippling condition, Motor Neurone Disease, he responded by organising a “Firies’ Climb for Motor Neurone Disease”. To facilitate research and treatment at Macquarie University, the climb entailed Firefighters in full firefighting gear climbing Sydney Tower Eye, the tallest building in Sydney. The first climb involved 164 firies who collectively raised $184,000 and now, in its fifth year, with 600 competitors each year has raised more than $2.2 million. Awarded the SES Director’s Commendation for Courage when he served as an SES member in 2008/09, Matthew has worked tirelessly to help in the conquest of the disease.

ADAM RICHARDS – Regional Instructor – Central Coast

Firefighters serve the public in many wonderful ways but Adam Richards, a member of Fire and Rescue NSW for 15 years and presently a regional instructor, has had more than a passing thought for colleagues in distress, particularly those subjected to intermittent stress who suffered heart attacks. He collaborated with Ambulance NSW and firefighters in North Carolina USA to develop a “Mayday Drag for Rapid Primary Assessment” for NSW firefighters who had suffered cardiac arrest. It earned a Commissioner’s Safety Award for the best individual contribution to workplace health and safety. Among many other contributions, he spread the message of the value of the service far and wide, being central to the impetus of the 2008 production of Fire 000.

ANTHONY WALLER Superintendent, Zone Commander – Illawarra

Anthony Waller, a Superintendent with Fire and Rescue NSW, based in the Illawarra, has never been far from saving lives. In 2001 he was both the Sydney and NSW Lifesaver of the Year, and is presently education director and board member of Surf Life Saving NSW. But his professional input has been on that other hazard, fire. He has been a firefighter for 38 years, more than 20 of them as a firefighter educator. Among his operations, he was a team leader in an Australian earthquake task force in Christchurch. In 2017 he was Operations Officer in a NSW cyclone taskforce in Proserpine, Queensland. In the same year he was Base Manager in a flood evacuation operation the northern NSW.

Marine Rescue NSW Finalists

RAYMOND ANGELCoxswain – Port Macquarie

Raymond Angel, a Coxswain with Marine Rescue Port Macquarie, has drawn on his naval experience not just to participate in 56 search and rescue operations, but to keep the unit ship-shape so that at a critical time, everything works. As well as his 730 hours on operations, during which he and his crew have frequently encountered hazardous conditions and weather, he has ensured during down time that the unit’s fleet remains rescue ready through the establishment of maintenance procedures, efficient management of stores and coordination of maintenance days. Ray’s jovial manner together with his high standards have been a key motivator to other members across a range of unit activities, drawing out a willingness to contribute within a team.

DAVID HAND – Coxswain & Radio Club Officer – Port Jackson

When a boater had a heart attack on the water, things looked grim, until David Hand, a Marine Rescue NSW volunteer on Sydney Harbour, heard about it. On a nearby training exercise with Port Jackson and Middle Harbour crews, he used the rescue vessel defibrillator to save the man’s life. A former naval man, and now a Marine Rescue volunteer for more than 13 years, David has been in a number of successful medical episodes and rescues. He was the second Unit Commander when Marine Rescue Port Jackson was formed and has committed himself to building the unit to what it is today. He is heavily involved in professional development of trainees and shares his experience with fellow volunteers and the broader boating community.

MITCHELL HARVEYDeputy Unit Commander – Woolgoolga

Mitchell Harvey, Deputy Unit Commander of Marine Rescue Woolgoolga on the Mid North Coast, has been a member of Marine Rescue NSW for more than eight years, since the age of 16, becoming expert in radio communications. On his first operation as vessel master, he commanded a two-day search for a lost swimmer at Woolgoolga Beach. In 2016, as Marine Rescue Watch Officer, he coordinated an operation to assist a vessel that had broached on the Clarence River bar, leaving the two crew members severely injured. Mitchell has trained 15 radio operators to Marine Rescue NSW standard and assists in training members of units at Coffs Harbour, Evans Head, Nambucca and Port Macquarie. He has commanded the rescue vessel, Woolgoolga 30, during training and operations.

KEVIN HILL Coxswain and Radio Operator – Huskisson

So much safety relies on investment in infrastructure. Kevin Hill, a member of Marine Rescue NSW at Jervis Bay, saw that a wharf at Huskisson, leased from Shoalhaven Council, was vital for berthing the unit’s rapid-response rescue vessel. It would allow rescue crews get to the rescue vessel quickly instead of going to the vessel’s previous berth at the Navy base, HMAS Creswell. He spent many hours outside normal duties attending meetings, talking to council officials and planners and consulting architects. The result has been that the local boating community is much safer with the unit’s main vessel berthed at HMAS Creswell while its smaller rapid response vessel is on the new jetty. During his two years as Unit Commander, Kevin participated in many rescues including organising crews, planning and directing vessel rescues harnessing community support.

NSW Ambulance Service Finalists

LINDSAY COURT – Helicopter Paramedic/Duty Operations Manager – Bankstown Helicopter Operations

Since 1993, Lindsay has been treating critically ill and injured people, and for much of that time by helicopter, accessing and treating patients in cliffs, caves, canyons and collapsed buildings. He is the manager of the Sydney Helicopter base and in that capacity overseas 30 paramedics and about 50 doctors. The stress of operating like this takes its toll and Lindsay has become well aware of that. He has been instrumental in developing support systems and a culture of caring for staff welfare, and has been a volunteer Peer Support Officer since 1988. Lindsay is also a member of the NSW Government Urban Rescue Search and Rescue and in that capacity served in Japan after its earthquake and tsunami.

KEVIN MCSWEENEYInspector, Duty Operations Manager– Northmead

When public servant, Curtis Cheng, was gunned down by a terrorist in Parramatta in October 2015, Kevin and a colleague were the first officers on the scheme both responding without a thought for their own safety. It was typical of the attitude of Kevin, who over his 20 years in the service has supported many families following horrendous tragedies such as vehicle accidents, drownings in home swimming pools, and shootings. Now an inspector and Duty Operations Manage for Northmead, Western Sydney and Nepean Blue Mountains, he is founding director of the Michael Hughes Foundation, a NSW not-for-profit organisation that has focused on increasing survivability of cardiac arrest, helped along by turning “bystanders” into “first responders”.

GARTH THOMSON – Critical Care Paramedic – Albion Park Aeromedical Helicopter Base

Garth Thomson, a critical care paramedic with 25 years of service with the NSW Ambulance Service, has never felt restricted to any particular emergency services work. He has been heavily involved as an aviation safety network adviser for the ambulance service and has been part of a leadership team implementing the critical care classification. But in 2001 he was embedded with the Rural Fire Service in the 2001 Helensburgh fires, assisting local families and the community. He has attended fires in Victoria, Rylstone and elsewhere and he has also been a member of the Helensbugh/Stanwell Park Surf Life Saving Club, doing weekend patrols along the beach and coastline and using his paramedical training to assist junior club members.

BEN TORY – Paramedic – Ashford

Ben Tory, has been a member of the NSW Ambulance Service for more than four years, he has shown that well away from official duties he has always been willing to help, He is a member of the NSW SES, St John Ambulance and the NSW RFS and according to his nominator, who had a flat tyre and no spare, Ben drove them 70 kilometres to pick up a spare before taking them back and changing the tyre. On another occasion, the nominators’ friend fell asleep and went off the road. Ben stopped and organised a tow-truck and waited until it arrived. Such selflessness with advice about the rewards that come from joining the ambulance service has inspired the nominator to pursue a career in helping people and possibly opening up a career opportunity for a young man who has seen how selflessness works.

NSW Rural Fire Service Finalists

LINDI KINGDON – Deputy Captain/Purchasing Officer of Hornsby/Ku-ring-gai Catering – Hornsby/Ku-ring-gai

When two major storms hit Cherrybrook and Berowra in December last year, the Rural Fire Service volunteers moved in to help the afflicted, dropping everything else as always to work selflessly for others. Amongst the volunteers was Lindi Kingdom (Deputy Captain) of the Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Catering Rural Fire Service, a grandmother who has been volunteering for 15 years. Over 10 hours, Lindi provided 1,024 meals, including watermelon at lunch time as the temperature soared to 40 degrees. Once Lindi sacrificed her Christmas family lunch to go to Nowendoc in the state’s north-east to provide a total of 800 meals for the police working on a special task force and even managed to provide them with a Christmas lunch.

VICKI MATTHEWS – Volunteer Catering Unit Captain – Coonabarabran

If the Army marches on its stomach, emergency services come a very close second. Vicki Mathews, Catering Unit Captain for the NSW Rural fire Service at Coonabarabran, is hardly one to let the region’s firefighters drop though lack of nourishment. Vicki became a businesswoman, and also assisting her daughter run a café, she started volunteering during the devasting Wambelong Fires in the district in January 2013. Vicki became catering unit captain and has been on the job ever since, leading a team at the state’s largest fire for the 2017-18 season, near Leadville, where she worked more than 16 hours a day for two weeks. Nothing for her is too big, too small or too inconvenient and everyone gets served.

EDWIN (EDDIE) NEWBERY– Captain & Treasurer – Copmanhurst

Eddie Newbery joined Copmanhurst Bush Fire Brigade in July 2012, however wears many hats in his Brigade – Captain, Vice President, Training Officer, Community Engagement Officer, Permit Officer, RFSA Representative, and previously the positions of Secretary and Treasurer. Eddie has always been interested in the welfare of his community and with his SES unit assisted a homeless family by providing a tarpaulin for shelter. His compassionate leadership led to his Brigade checking the welfare of that family when returning to station after a long day of bushfire fighting. Eddie went on to eventually assist the family find more stable accommodation. Eddie has stepped up when his Brigade needed a new leader and continues to volunteer tirelessly for his community.

WARWICK TEASDALE – Group Captain – Killcare/Wagstaffe

Warwick Teasdale, former Captain of the Killcare/Wagstaffe Rural Fire Brigade on the Central Coast, has become so expert in his 43 years of voluntary service, including 20 years as district Group Captain, that he is now in demand internationally. On seven occasions he has been to Botswana to provide firefighting and incident management training, needing as he did so, security in the form of armed protection. He has also delivered high-level incident management training to delegations from Korea and India, and has trained staff from the NSW Roads and Maritime Service and Sydney Water. He has been active at the highest level, managing large and difficult incidents, including a flood relief operation at Nyngan and an operation to contain a bird flu outbreak on the Central Coast.

NSW State Emergency Service Finalists

CECIL (JOE) BOND – Team Leader – Gundagai

Gundagai has seen the worst flooding in Australian history, and the Hume Highway has taken its toll. The NSW State Emergency Service is a vital part of the community. Cecil (Joe) Bond, a volunteer with more than 55 years’ service – 10 years with the Gundagai Rescue Squad and 45 years with the NSW State Emergency Service, has been a source of security and comfort. Cecil is a “jack of all trades” and a very experienced road crash operator. Previously, he was a great supporter in raising funds for the Gundagai rescue squad and to help build a rescue vehicle, and in that capacity has been a mechanic and auto electrician. He has attended numerous out-of-area operations including floods and storms. Joe has also been a volunteer ambulance driver, truck driver and boat operator.

LEONIE ANNE COX – Unit Commander – Tingha

Tingha, on the New England Tablelands, has seen Nature in the raw. It takes a dedicated band of volunteers to keep the place running smoothly and Leonie, Unit Commander with the Tingha State Emergency Service, is one of those. Leonie has been volunteering with NSW SES for 25 years. During the height of local bushfires in February, she acted for both the NSW SES and NSW Rural Fire Service, barely leaving her post as she provided food for the teams. A member of the NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc – WIRES), she took in a distressed joey at the height of the fires and looked after it as well. With a long commitment to animals, Leonie has often paid for their care herself.

PETER DADD – Deputy Unit Commander – Hunters Hill

Peter Dadd, a Police Officer, has gone well beyond his professional commitment to serve the community. Now Deputy Unit Commander of the Hunters Hill State Emergency Service, he has been volunteering for more than 15 years. Notable service has been during the Hunter Storms of 2017 and the Queensland floods of 2011. In addition, he was also a retained firefighter from 2007 to 2012 with Fire & Rescue NSW where on his days off from police duties he ensured the pump was maintained and ready to be crewed. This, along with his service with Scouts Australia and Rotary Youth Leadership, and other activities such as when he was a rescue diver from 2004 to 2012, has brought him widespread recognition.

DAVID JOHNSUN – Local Commander – Canada Bay

David Johnsun, a Local Commander in the Canada Bay State Emergency Service in Sydney’s west, has been a volunteer for 18 years and has been a primary back-up to the duty officer at all times, night and day. In the past 12 months, David has led rescue teams to a wide expanse of the metropolitan area, including Blacktown, Liverpool, Marrickville, Hornsby, Holroyd, Paramatta, The Hills, Sutherland, Campbelltown and Warragamba. He has led the team in multiple emergency responses often lasting hours, at the same time motivating and caring for SES members. Occasionally, David has been out several days in a row. He has gone further afield, to storm events in other parts of the state and to Victoria.

NSW Volunteer Rescue Association Finalists

MICHAEL BREWER – Captain – Glen Innes

Good communications are vital to any emergency service and Michael Brewer, who was an amateur radio operator and member of the Wireless Institute Civil Emergency Network in the 1980s, has maintained and expanded that system. Captain of the Volunteer Rescue Association at Glen Innes, he has recently been responsible for the establishment of a radio repeater station serving the communities of Glen Innes, Guyra and Inverell. Mike has ensured his squad has the most up-to-date equipment available. Captain of the squad for 18 years, he has inspired leadership, led to his members providing traffic control and other services to the local community for years.

FRANK FLEMING – President, Vice-Captain & Training Officer – Inverell

Frank Fleming celebrates forty years as an active member of the Inverell Volunteer Rescue Squad. An inaugural member of the association he has held many positions including Captain, President and Training Officer. Frank is on-call 24 hours a day, often leaving his business to attend a callout, and returning in time to go back to work. Frank has managed to balance his work with his rescue and never hesitates to give back to his community, he participated in the recent Tingha Plateau Bushfires, assisting and supporting the firefighters.

PAUL MARSHALL – Captain of the Albury and Border Rescue Squad – Albury

Paul, a serving member of the Victoria Police Highway Patrol, is the captain of the Albury and Border Rescue Squad in the NSW VRA. He has promoted interagency cooperation locally, sharing his knowledge of how vehicles react to crashes and the investigative process that follows. He is also involved in the management of emergencies and critical incidents, bushfire awareness and frontline management. In 2017, he was part of a team that travelled to Vanuatu, teaching the local rescuers skills such as road crash rescue, vertical and swift water rescue. Once the job is done, he always actively checks on the welfare of rescuers and the victims involved.

NATALIE O’BRIEN – Secretary, Events Coordinator & Rescue Operator – Dubbo

Natalie O’Brien, who has worked for emergency services for 5 years and is secretary of the Dubbo Rescue Squad, NSW Volunteer Rescue Association, has hardly been able to call her life her own, working full-time and as a single mother of two. She has also served with the Dubbo Rural Fire Service Support Brigade and for the last nine months has also done some event coordination with the Dubbo Rescue Squad and is studying a Diploma in Paramedical Science. Like most emergency service personal she is on n call 24 hours a day, she has become well-known to the community as someone with a big heart and willing to help anyone in need.