2017 Finalists

On behalf of Rotary NSW Clubs and Districts we commend and congratulate all Emergency Services Members for the work they undertake in their jobs everyday and for their Service Above Self – where they go above and beyond in their local communities.  This year 73 inspirational Emergency Service Members were nominated for these prestigious awards from across New South Wales.

Congratulations to the 2017 Finalists of the Rotary NSW Emergency Services Community Awards.  You are amazing individuals that give so much back to your communities in addition to what you do in your role as an Emergency Service Member.  Thank you for being you!




Fire and Rescue NSW –  2017 Finalists




SCOTT HANLEY – Relieving Station Officer – Liverpool

Scott is a relieving station officer with Fire & Rescue NSW and has worked hard during his 14 years of service (almost). Among his many emergencies, he has had to help people trapped behind bars in a fire in Liverpool. But beyond attending emergencies, Scott has been concerned for the victims of fires, in particular children. Thirteen years ago he founded Bike Rides for Charity to raise funds for the Children’s Hospital at Westmead raising $650,000 to date. The ride each year, is over 440 kilometres from Wagga Wagga to Westmead Hospital. Scott and fellow firefighters have stopped along the way to teach schoolchildren and community groups about fire safety. A mentor for younger firefighters, Scott is also a board member of the Princess Alexandra Children’s Burns Unit.



DANIEL HATTON – Senior Firefighter – Bulli

Daniel is a senior fire fighter with Fire & Rescue NSW. Daniel has gone well beyond his duty to serve his community, voluntarily following up with families he helped rescue during the 2001 Christmas Day bushfires. Daniel has also taken on a virtual global outreach to the poorest and most vulnerable children in the world. He has built homes in eight developing countries, including a pre-school in Banda Aceh for orphans of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. He lived in Zimbabwe designing and implementing sustainability programs at multiple orphanages, and is now a board member of Vana Childcare Ministries Australia. For the past seven years he has coordinated the 15km ocean paddle as part of the Wollongong Christian Surfers paddle against poverty.



RACHEL HESSENBERGER – Captain of Retained Firefighters – Albion Park

Rachel, like so many employed in emergency services, cannot stop once she has completed her duties. A captain at Albion Park Fire & Rescue NSW, Rachel also volunteers for NSW Rural Fire Service, where she also holds the position of deputy captain. She fought the Illawarra Christmas fires in 2001 and the Thredbo bushfires in 2007. Last year she attended a school bus accident at Albion Park where a number of children were injured. As part of Fire & Rescue’s peer support program, Rachel is also concerned with people struck down with illness, including motor neurone disease sufferers. To help raise funds for research into that, she participated in the Firefighters Climb last year, in which she had to climb 1,507 steps of the Sydney Tower.




JASON MURPHY – Station Officer – Queanbeyan

Jason has long recognised the problems of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in a service whose members are so often called to handle situations perilous to themselves and others. He was involved in the infancy of employee support programs, becoming a Peer Support mentor in 2000. Since that time, he has provided support, counselling and direction to hundreds of Fire and Rescue employees, giving thousands of hours unpaid over 17 years. Jason is the first point of contact for all critical incident exposure in the Queanbeyan area and his expertise was used extensively in the aftermath of the Carwoola Fires. Jason volunteers his time as a member of the Lake George Local Emergency Management Committee, and previously served on the Safer Communities Neighbourhood Committee and Queanbeyan Road Safety Committee.



Marine Rescue Logo try RGB

Marine Rescue NSW –  2017 Finalists




DAVID CRAWFORD – Radio Operations Officer – Terrey Hills

David is a radio operator. As part of a team of volunteers he provides a vital safety net for boaters on Sydney’s waterways and coastal regions further afield, monitoring the marine radio airwaves for distress calls from those in trouble on the water. In 1991, David, a builder, suffered a workplace injury that left him with spinal damage. He has since become a tireless Workplace Health and Safety advocate, a Spinal Cord Injuries Australia Ambassador and coordinator in its TeamSafe workplace safety and injury prevention program. David joined the Marine Rescue NSW unit in 2014 after seeing an advertisement calling for more volunteer radio operators. “I went to the induction night and never looked back,” he said. He now volunteers for a five-hour shift every Saturday.




ADOLF FRANCO – Treasurer – Berridale

It might be the ultimate nightmare to get into boat trouble in the alpine lakes of New South Wales Snowy Mountains, especially in plummeting temperatures. But Adolf Franco has been there in the background, ready to take on the wilds of Lake Eucumbene and Lake Jindabyne. Adolf, who lives at Berridale, stations and maintains a rescue vessel at home when the season or weather requires it. Adolf is also an active member of the Berridale Brigade of the Rural Fire Service and the State Emergency Service. Because of the huge distances in the Snowy River Region Frank also has a SES rescue vehicle ready for action stationed at his home. As an electrician, Adolf operates his own business and freely donates his time to the elderly if they have electrical problems. In March Frank volunteered to go to Taree and Ballina to assist in flood relief.




ALBERT MORRIS – Statistics Officer NSW – Point Clare

Albert has been an active member of Marine Rescue Services since 1989. He has gone out many times as skipper on local rescues and has worked tirelessly both to support the service and keep proper records. Al has been the instigator of a number of fund-raising exercises, necessary to upgrade equipment and maintain the running of the Point Clare unit. Al became the Unit Commander and later the unit statistics officer. With this unique skill set it wasn’t long before he became the Statistics Officer for NSW, bringing NSW records into the 21st century by transferring all the information from paper to digital. Al is a popular member and is looked up to as a mentor by the less experienced unit officers.




WENDY YOUNG – Assistant Treasurer – Port Macquarie

With 32 years volunteering in the community, at 84 Wendy is not slowing down. Presently Wendy is working with Marine Rescue Port Macquarie. She joined Marine Rescue, (VRA) as it was in 1993 and worked as a radio operator, and continued after the formation of Marine Rescue NSW in 2009. She presently handles the affairs of Marine Rescue Port Macquarie’s 600-strong Radio Club Supporters Group. Prior to 1993, Wendy worked in other volunteer roles. She spent six years with the Terramungamine Bush Fire Brigade in the central west of NSW. On relocating to the coast Wendy volunteered with the Port Macquarie Koala Society. During the 1994 bush fires, Wendy travelled to rescue and treat numerous injured koalas. She is the consummate volunteer.



NSW Ambulance Roundel Transparent RGB

NSW Ambulance – 2017 Finalists




JEROEN LEENDERS – Intensive Care Paramedic – Hamilton and Cardiff

Jeroen migrated from the Netherlands to Australia in 2005 and from that time has been committed to helping people. He began with NSW Rural Fire Service and NSW SES in northern New South Wales and in 2009 was sent to Newcastle with NSW Ambulance Service. In 2011, he volunteered with the Special Olympics Australia, providing medical and volunteer first aid services at local, state, national and international games. Giving his own time, he ended up coaching the Snowboarders of Team Australia at the 2017 Special Olympic World Winter Games in Austria and helped the team win multiple medals. He had a secondary role as the head medical officer to ensure medical safety and first aid services to all athletes and carers involved during these events.




STEVEN MARTYN – Intensive Care Paramedic – Foster / Tuncurry

Steven Martyn has been an ambulance officer for 36 years, performing duty through a slice of history. His duties have included the Richmond Base Bicentennial Air show and Navy medical team for the Sydney Harbour Bi-Centenary celebrations. He has served the mid-north coast by helping with the introduction of IT technology and has organised training for paramedics and medical professionals to discuss Advanced Care Directives and End of Life Plans. Steve has also cared for his colleagues. For 10 years he has been a peer support officer. That included an occasion when a staff member lost an infant, and for staff after a colleague committed suicide. He has also volunteered his time to support the Salvation Army and Ronald McDonald House.




MURRAY SCANLAN – Clinical Training Officer – Nepean Blue Mountains

Murray has experienced personal tragedy when in 1984, as a member of the NSW State Emergency Service, he attended a truck accident in the Blue Mountains in which his wife was killed. Two years later, Murray joined NSW Ambulance Service and was determined to help equip the community to deal with such emergencies and disasters. Murray has been active in the service ever since, lately in a training role. Murray is also a member of NSW Rural Fire Service for 20 years. Last year, he was required to draw on all his resources when he heard shooting in the Hornsby shopping centre, going immediately and attended three women with injuries using supplies from a local chemist, first aid kits from Westfield Plaza and a tablecloth to stem life-threatening haemorrhages.




CHRISTOPHER WILKINSON – Critical Care Paramedic – Helicopter Retrieval – Bankstown

When a hillside collapsed at Thredbo in 1997, wiping out two ski lodges and killing 18, Christopher was one of two paramedics that crawled into the wreckage and stayed with the trapped survivor, Stuart Diver. Throughout the ordeal, Chris was integral to Stuart’s treatment and rescue. It is just one incident during a long career of tackling some of the most dangerous rescue assignments including cliff, ocean and mountain rescues in difficult and hostile environments. Chris has performed helicopter rescues and retrieval of critically injured and ill patients for over 25 years. He now attends the most severe accidents and trauma, retrieving and transporting victims to trauma centres and hospitals. Chris has used his vast experience over the past 34 years to give medical training to Australian Special Operations personnel, especially in austere and remote medicine.




NSW Rural Fire Service – 2017 Finalists




MICHAEL COLE – Advanced Firefighter – Loftus

Michael is a triple-zero emergency call taker and trainee paramedic with the NSW Ambulance Service where action is plentiful including delivering babies by phone and telling people how to start CPR. But Mike, Vice President of the Loftus RFS station, has far more to contribute. In 2013, he fought the 213 bushfires in the Blue Mountains. He attends school fetes to promote fire safety as a community activity and has been involved with Fire Rescue NSW in the Community Fire Unit (CFU) program for more than seven years. Michael has raised funds for breast cancer sufferers, helped the Salvation Army and joined the White Lion program, part of a youth rehabilitation program fundraiser where he is locked in gaol raising funds for his release.




GORDON HILL – Volunteer – Duty Officer, Critical Incident Support Services – Cobar

Gordon deals with emergencies in Cobar, in the state’s far west. He has been a Critical Incident Support Service Peer (CISSP) with the NSW RFS on call most days for the past 22 years and a Critical Incident Support Service Duty Officer for a week a month for the past 5 years. For 40 years Gordon has been a member of the NSW SES and is currently the Local Controller of the Cobar Unit. Gordon has been a member of the NSW SES CISS Programme since its inception 13 years ago. He is Deputy Chairman of the Cobar Health Council , and member of the Western Primary Health Network Community Council, helping to source better health services for people in the Western Region.




MINA HOWARD – Community Engagement Officer – Blackheath/Mount Victoria

Mina in a retired school teacher, a Rotarian and an RFS activist in ensuring her community is safe. After the devastating 2009 Victoria bushfires and subsequently seeing her own street devastated by fire in 2013, Mina established the HUFF program (Heads Up For Fire or any emergency), working tirelessly to ensure that the community is more connected and better prepared. HUFF aims to ensure the well-being of people in an emergency. The simple reminder to everyone to knock on your neighbours’’ doors and ask if they’re okay helps make people feel less isolated and more confident. Mina is spreading the word to other brigades and hopes that HUFF can be set up in other townships. Mina also supports many community projects and organisations through her work with the Rotary Club of Blackheath as a Past-President, Secretary and Youth Services Chair.



KEITH WHITE – Captain – Heathcote

Keith’s works has taken him across Australia fighting major fires in Victoria (Black Saturday 2009), South Australia (2015) and Western Australia (2016). In 1994, Keith broke holidays to fight fires in the Hawkesbury and Sutherland Shire. In 1999, after a major hail storm struck Sydney, Keith volunteered extensively to assist with clean-up. During the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Keith volunteered as Crew Commander, providing fire protection at the Equestrian Centre and in 2003 the Waterfall Train Crash. In 2012, Keith led a clean-up crew at Yenda after severe flooding and assisted in the 2013 fires in the Southern Highlands and Hawkesbury. Keith has served as brigade treasurer since 1990 and is a leading trainer and assessor in the Sutherland Rural Fire District.




NSW  State Emergency Service –  2017 Finalists



GERARD de VRIES – Deputy Unit Controller – Wauchope

Gerard has spent a career spanning 47 years saving people or helping people in disaster. He started his career with the NSW Fire Brigade, then with NSW Ambulance Service rising to Superintendent in charge of Ambulance Rescue. Gerard joined NSW Rural Fire Service as a Fire Control Officer where he was incident controller at the massive Pilliga and Armidale/Walcha fires. On retirement 14 years ago he joined the NSW SES. Gerard is now Deputy Unit Controller at Wauchope. His career has taken him to many disasters including the Hilton Hotel Bombing (1978), the Newcastle Earthquake (1989) and the Brooklyn Train Crash (1990). Gerard regularly travels all over the region, including Lord Howe Island, to assist in SES training.



MARION GILL – Unit Controller – Kempsey

Marian (May) has been co-ordinator and manager of the Mid North Coast Region Kempsey NSW SES Units for 29 years. She is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is particularly alert for road accidents. May has been called on many times to handle situations of storm damage and flood disaster, often way beyond her region. Amongst this she has raised a family and worked more than 30 hours a week at a preschool kindergarten and has never been known to complain. Instead, May has actively promoted the SES within the community and has carried out her duties despite herself being treated for cancer. A much-loved and valued member of the community, May was awarded the Emergency Services Medal in 2003.



GRAHAM KINDER – Unit Controller – Windellama Unit

Graham lives two emergency service lives – one at Manly as NSW SES Deputy Local Controller, dealing with flooding, east-coast lows – and even a potential tsunami. The other at Windellama (near Goulburn) as SES Unit Controller and RFS President, Deputy Captain and Training Officer. Like all dedicated emergency workers, Graham has gone above and beyond the call of service, leading teams during floods from Goulburn to Murwillumbah, fighting fires in the Blue Mountains and facilitating Multi-Agency Leadership training across NSW. A foundation Tsunami Capability Development Group volunteer, Graham proposed development of Tsunami Awareness Training. Graham is a member of the Northern Beaches Council Flood and Coastal Storms Working Group and is a member of the SES Aviation Operations Team, diligently maintaining competency and training.



CHRISTOPHER NELSON – Deputy Local Controller – Canterbury

Chris has always behaved selflessly, especially when rescue operations turned tragic. On one occasion, when bad whether afflicted the NSW coast, Chris was called to an incident where a vehicle was washed off a road. It was dangerous getting to the vehicle but Chris took the lead. Despite the extraordinary efforts to rescue them, the occupants of the vehicle perished. Chris immediately turned his attention to the welfare of those who had tried to a save them and continued to counsel them from that time on. He has led many successful operations, including the rescue of a woman who ran her boat onto rocks, and has always put other first.




NSW Volunteer Rescue Association –  2017 Finalists



WILLIAM GLOVER – Chaplain – Brooklyn

Bill is currently a VRA Chaplain based at Brooklyn on the Hawkesbury River. Having joined VRA 19 years ago, Bill has participated in approximately 2,000 rescues ranging from stricken yachts, stranded or sinking boats and injured boat crew. Bill has transported and supplied fire-fighters during some of the big fires in the area and in 2004 and 2013 he helped fight fires from the water, using a fire pump. Finding an injured girl on a cliff ledge at Whale Beach, Bill and his crew guided a rescue helicopter to her. Four years ago, after suffering a horrible boating injury himself, he turned to Chaplaincy and for the last two years has been an accredited Chaplain, counselling VRA members and extending his services to Hornsby Hospital.



TIMOTHY LIDDEN – Squad Captain – Wagga Wagga

A VRA captain and member for over 24 years, Tim is known for going well beyond the call of duty to help others. In 2010, after his squad completed human rescues in local flooding, Tim went out by himself to help a farmer transport several hundred sheep that had been trapped on an island to safety by boat. In 2012 the flooding saw Tim make daily trips in the flood rescue boat to feed a heard of sheep. For the past 10 years, Tim has also been a member of the NSW Rural Fire Service, serving in the Glenfield Brigade, and in that capacity fought the Victorian Black Saturday bushfires in 2009. In 2013, he assisted in the Blue Mountains bushfires, and has survived being caught in a firestorm.



EILEEN MILES – Secretary / Accredited Rescue Officer – Batlow

At 65, Eileen is possibly the oldest active female rescue officer in the Volunteer Rescue Association. Eileen joined Batlow VRA squad six years ago and has made a difference by securing funds totalling $40,000. These funds have purchased items such as Stabilisation Equipment, Air Bags, Vertical Rescue Edge management, rechargeable scene lighting, radios, a rescue manikin and training equipment including a computer, projection and audio-visual equipment. Eileen is also a Rotarian and has held the roles of President, Public Officer and is currently undertaking another year as Secretary for the Rotary Club of Batlow. Eileen’s work often crosses over with VRA and Rotary with her keen interest in youth. Eileen has been a champion of Interact since 2008 and attends career fairs providing students an insight into opportunities for volunteering.



ROD WONG – Radio Officer – Mooney Mooney

Rod is a boat master, radio operator and skipper with VRA’s marine unit based on the Hawkesbury River. His river knowledge and skills have been called on many times on local waterways. Rod has skippered rescue vessels in rough and adverse conditions, towing large vessels up to 35 tonnes to safe harbours. In 2005 a storm blew up in Berowra Waters and 22 teenage canoeists were trapped. Rod negotiated a difficult passage and using his skills he managed the safe return of 22 wet and scared young people. A qualified communications technician; Rod also works with VRA’s specialist communications group WICEN. His expertise assists VRA by installing, fixing, operating and maintaining portable radio systems essential to the safe running of community and charity events over the last 8 years.