2020 NSW RESCA Finalists

Fire + Rescue NSW Finalists

ANTHONY CAMILLERI – Station Commander – Bankstown Fire

With more than 33 years of service with Fire and Rescue NSW, Station Commander Tony Camilleri consistently goes above and beyond to support others in local and overseas communities. Tony participated in a mammoth cross-country charity bike ride stretching from Sydney to Perth, and together with his daughter, he donated all of the profits from his local café business in Bali to support the welfare of the local community. Tony also assisted the Vanuatu community in developing an Urban Search and Rescue capability in the wake of Cyclone Pam in 2015, and he was decorated for rescuing people trapped in a car after an accident.

CRAIG GORDON – Fire Investigation – Greenacre

A permanent and previously a retained firefighter with Fire and Rescue NSW, has supported investigations surrounding the cause and origin of fires, particularly those in the built environment, through his specialist skills in training accelerant detection canines. Fire and Rescue NSW’s accelerant detection canine program is the first of its kind in Australasian fire services. Craig spent five years with the RAAF and in the 2013 he was involved in protecting RAAF base Williamtown from a fast moving bushfire. Craig left the RAAF to pursue a permanent career with Fire and rescue NSW. Craig has been stationed at Goulburn, Salamander Bay and Bankstown fire stations, and specialised in rescue . Craig currently works at Fire Investigation and Research Unit which is based in Greenacre, Craig also worked at both the Currowan and the Gospers Mountain Fires last year. He was also deployed to conduct rapid damage assessments in the Clarence Valley. Craig has given public lectures and demonstrations in the use of canine detection in fires, to increase community awareness about this exciting and beneficial program.

DAVID MILLIKEN – Captain NSW Fire and Rescue

The Thredbo landslide disaster in 1997 would test the mettle of any emergency worker, and Fire and Rescue NSW Thredbo Station Captain David Milliken rose to the occasion when he led a team through the horror. He has never flinched in a region pregnant with dangers. As member of the Thredbo Ski Patrol for 33 years, David used his intimate knowledge of the alpine country to effect many rescues. As a firefighter, he has been involved with the 2003 bushfires, the 2018 Tathra bushfire and the unprecedented 2019/2020 bushfire season. David has supported members of the community affected by trauma and has worked within the fire service in developing strategy to deal with mental health problems of employees severely affected by those events.

GREG ROOD – Bush Fire Officer – Sydney Olympic Park

A  bush fire and aviation officer with Fire and Rescue NSW, knows well the value of preparation and prevention, especially as he is leading the trial and introduction of wildfire-preventative products and home defence systems such as Thermo Gel to protect thousands of properties into the future. He is also leading a project with IAG insurance and the NRMA helicopter to innovate for the future and include the capability for interface aerial firefighting for greater prevention and protection of properties and the community in assisting the Rural Fire Service. But he has also been actively on the frontline in the face of disaster.  In 2018, Greg and his wife Melissa rallied the Wollongong community to receive donations of bush bikes, surfboards, wetsuits and outdoor sporting equipment for families and children following the Tathra bushfires. Greg also personally delivered and distributed donated goods with his family to those devastated by this tragic event as a means to get the community back to their feet quickly and to what they love. Active elsewhere in community charitable activities, Greg returned early from leave in January this year to assist in the bushfire threat to the far south coast where he provided countless hours of assistance to locals on and off shift providing fire line / area intelligence and reconnaissance and tactical advice to incident management and strike teams from Sydney to Bega.

Marine Rescue NSW Finalists

STEVEN ANGLEO – Training Systems Officer; MR Master; MR Watch Officer, Trainer & Assessor – Bermagui

A member of Marine Rescue Bermagui for 12 years, Steve Angelo has dedicated himself to the safety of the boating community and his fellow volunteers. He is an experienced rescue vessel Master and radio base Watch Officer. Steve also gained a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, becoming a unit trainer. With a natural ability to communicate complex matters clearly, he uses his experience to demonstrate the application of operating procedures, helping ensure the unit continues to provide an effective rescue service. Despite living approximately an hour inland, where he lost stock, sheds and fencing in the summer fires, Steve devotes about 30 hours a week to unit activities and is always available for response operations. He has forged strong links with the State Emergency Service and Surf Life Saving, whose members operate alongside MR Bermagui, including during a three-day search for a missing person off Tathra in 2019 that was exposed as a hoax. Steve’s marine and rescue knowledge is second to none.

ALLAN BROOK – MR Coxswain/Trainer/MR Radio Operator – Ulladulla

When Allan Brook was diagnosed with cancer in 2018, he was given only two months to live. Driven by his faith and will to survive, not only has Allan defied that prognosis, he has continued to serve as an enthusiastic member of Marine Rescue Ulladulla. Allan has taken part in 72 rescue missions in eight years, including 18 after his diagnosis. One drew international attention when Allan and Unit Commander David Hall evacuated a family who had sought refuge from the Currowan inferno on the Bawley Point beachfront on December 5. After transporting water, food and medical supplies to firefighters, they transferred three girls and two boys, aged between six and 14, to safety. Allan worked tirelessly, unloading the supplies, pushing the boat out through the breakers and safely loading the children and their mother on board, regaling them with stories to distract from their seasickness and stress. Allan is always cheerful and supportive of others, including his fellow Milton Baptist Church members, cancer sufferers and volunteers.

DANIELLE CARTER – Fund Raising Coordinator – Shoalhaven

Danielle Carter is a fundraising coordinator with Marine Rescue Shoalhaven. Since joining the unit 15 years ago, she has served as a radio operator, vessel crew member and on the unit executive, as well as undertaking many administrative and fundraising tasks, including organising raffles and raising donations. Danielle is the coordinator of the annual Emergency Services Open Day, bringing together numerous services to showcase their skill and services to the local community. Danielle has been an adult volunteer with Australian Navy Cadets, operating from HMAS Albatross, Nowra, since 2014 and is currently a Chief Petty Officer. She commits more than 60 days a year, including most Saturdays, a weekend a month and two one-week blocks a year, working as a Cadet Instructor for up to 50 cadets from 12 to 18 years. In the past year she has undertaken Youth Mental Health First Aid, Leadership and Management and Power Boat Instructor training. She is recognised as a weapons and power boat instructor and safety boat operator.

ALEC PERCIVAL – MR Master, MR Watch Officer and Property and Facilities Officer. Former Unit Commander and Deputy Unit Commander – Bermagui

Marine Rescue NSW volunteers often put their safety on the line to rescue boaters in peril. Marine Rescue Bermagui vessel Master and Watch Officer Alec Percival has taken part in many missions in hazardous conditions, including saving a yacht from smashing on to rocks at night in rough seas off Binji Binji Point in 2017, for which he was awarded a prestigious Commissioner’s Commendation for Courage. Alec has served as Unit Commander for eight years and Deputy for a further two, responsible for upgrading the unit’s working environment by relocating its base to a high-profile waterfront location. Alec always puts the needs of boaters and MRNSW first as demonstrated when he and his wife Heather lost their home to a bushfire on New Year’s Eve. At this difficult time, Alec still coordinated the transportation of the unit’s rescue vessel 200km by road to Nowra for essential repairs. Alec has built relationships with other emergency services, including the Bermagui Surf Life Saving Club, with the unit helping the club to operate a bushfire evacuation centre in January.

Surf Life Saving NSW Finalists

ANTHONY BELLETTE – Batemans Bay SLSC – Club Captain – Batemans Bay

Like so many other emergency workers, Tony Bellette saw his moment had come when the most recent devasting bushfires threatened the township of Malua Bay on the far south coast. After text messages went out to townspeople to evacuate the beach, Anthony went on to play a pivotal role. He managed thousands of people seeking shelter at the club and communicated with other emergency services. When the surf clubhouse became a recovery centre, he managed that as well. Thirteen years a lifesaver and now captain of the Bateman’s Bay SLSC, Anthony has devoted himself to the club and its operations, including an event in 2011 when a catamaran overturned and threw five people into the water and he went out to save lives.

TRACEY HARE-BOYD – Sydney Northern Beaches Branch – President – Sydney’s Northern Beaches

Tracey Hare-Boyd, the first female President of Surf Life Saving Northern Beaches Branch, has her work cut out attending to a membership of more than 19,000 in one of the biggest Branch of surf lifesaving in the nation. With a host of awards to her name, she has been on hand to assist round the clock. When storms lashed Sydney’s the region in November last year, Tracey was part of the emergency call-out team that went out to help members of the community identified at high risk, without power and needing medical assistance. She and her team went door knocking at 400 homes in Belrose, Davidson, Forestville, Killarney and Duffy’s Forest. Eighteen people were identified as requiring further medic al assistance and four needed hospitalisation.

KAREN HICKMOTT – Toowoon Bay – Director of Finance – Toowoon Bay

Karen Hickmott has used her extensive experience as the parent and advocate of two children with significant additional needs, her formidable management and organizational skills and her passion and dedication for helping others to make a difference for many members of the community but particularly other special needs families.  After joining Toowoon Bay SLSC in 2016, obtaining her Bronze Medallion and a raft of other awards she initiated and continues to run the Toowoon Bay Stingray Nipper programme for children with additional needs.  Karen has also brought her business skills to the role of Director of Finance for the Club for the last three years and is active in all areas of the club including management of major fundraising events, sponsors and grants, patrolling, competing in club competitions and even serving in the bar!

MICHAEL WASLEY – Sydney Northern Beaches Branch – Deputy President – Mona Vale

With almost 30 years of service in the surf lifesaving movement, Michael Wasley has contributed at club, branch, state, national and international levels. Michael was selected by SLSA to travel overseas to train and educate lifesavers in the South Korean Lifesaving Association, Police and the YMCA. Last year he won the Sydney Northern Beaches Branch Lifesaver of the Year award for the second time and is always encouraging youngsters to become part of the Surf Life Saving Movement. Michael has conducted four seasons as Carnival Director of Sydney Northern Beaches Branch Special Needs Championships, which he started in 2017. Following the success of this event in 2019, Michael was appointed carnival director for the first SLSNSW State Championship Inclusive Event which is now a fixture of the Championship program.

NSW Ambulance Finalists

DENISE PERRY – Volunteer 1st responder – Bigga

Denise Perry, in partnership with her husband for 22 years in the local hotel in Bigga in the southern tablelands, has long helped improve its resources and encourage visitors to the small town. With time lag of up to an hour for an ambulance to get there due to access, there is need for self-help. For the last 17 years, Denise has been a volunteer Community First Responder with NSW Ambulance in partnership with the SES. She has been right there for some of truly devastating and horrific incidents, from drownings and suicides to car and farm accidents. Throughout the years she has helped run many fundraising events for lifesaving essentials for our town, such as an easily accessible defibrillator and equipment to provide oxygen.

MATTHEW POTTER – Team Leader – Milton / Ulladulla

Last summer’s bushfires brought out the best in emergency workers. Matthew Potter, a paramedic based at Ulladulla, was one of those. When bushfires struck the Shoalhaven, he became Forward Commander in the NSW Ambulance response, working 20-hour days for an extended period, moving with the RFS control centres. Isolated people in the area, after having endured a truly horrendous inferno, did not feel quite as vulnerable with continued support such as Mathew provided. Having attended care accidents, he has also provided driver education for local high school students. Matthew has educated students with a drugs and alcohol program and consistently goes out of his way to help the elderly and people at risk.

MICHELLE RAWLINSON – Volunteer Project support coodinator – Goulburn

Michelle Rawlinson, a NSW Ambulance Service employee, has a very big job. She coordinates and supports the NSW Ambulance Community First Responders throughout the state – from recruiting and training through to continued support and promoting engagement. This includes multi-agency training days and weekends. Based at Goulburn, Michelle has gone well beyond the call of duty, focusing on local CFR units and identifying towns with increased needs, such as the community of Bigga which suffered numerous accidents within 12 months. Noted for her friendliness and approachability, Michelle works in close cooperation with other emergency services, providing continuing education and training for the NSW SES, NSW VRA and NSW Police, making her a vital part of the fabric of volunteers within this state.

JESSICA WHITTAKER – Paramedic – Dapto

Jessica Whittaker, a paramedic of 11 years based at Dapto, is passionate about the health of patients requiring an ambulance and makes the health of the community a personal priority. Jessica attends sporting events to provide emergency treatment as a volunteer. She presents to community groups and schools, provides peer support to her colleagues, and participates in charity drives for causes such as Brian Cancer Awareness. She has also taken issue with pollution of the environment and has educated NSW Ambulance staff on waste management. She is member of a range of community groups such as Land and Sea Clean-up, concerned with preserving the environment.

NSW Rural Fire Service – Finalists

ROBERT JOHN COLE – President/Deputy Captain – Loftus

Robert Cole, president of the Loftus Volunteer Bushfire Brigade, visited fire-ravaged Kangaroo Valley to speak directly to and assist bereft locals, even spending his own money locally to help stimulate the economy. Seven years with the bushfire service but 40 years in community organisations, including Rotary, the Salvation Army and supporters of the Powerhouse Museum where he has been a volunteer guide, he has devoted himself to his brigade. Professionally, he has worked as an orthotist, helping people to walk or walk properly again and use other afflicted parts of the anatomy. He organised funding for a crippled child and parents to go to the United States to get the child to walk again and enabled a paraplegic woman to walk down the aisle on her wedding day.

MARK EGLINGTON AFSM – Group Captain- Tweed – Far North Coast

Bushfire devastation knows no boundaries. When Group Captain Kenneth Mark (Mark) Eglington and fellow colleagues from the Far North Coast were deployed to bushfire ravaged Cobargo earlier this year they returned home emotionally impacted. Having served 30 years with Cudgen Brigade on the Far North Coast Mark wasn’t going to ignore the trauma on the South Coast. He was the driving force behind forming a committee appealing to other Fire Brigades, Brigade members, local businesses and community members for funds and equipment to be distributed to the Cobargo community. $40,000 in cash was received. Along with $10,000 in donated equipment $31,000 in fencing and plumbing equipment was purchased enough to fill a semi – trailer. Cash donations were made to 3 local schools, Cobargo Scout Group and the Cobargo Co-Op.

WENDY ROBERTS – Volunteer – Shoalhaven

Longevity in emergency services is commendable, but Wendy Roberts, having chalked up 58 years, might have set a record. A volunteer with the NSW Rural fire Service, based at Vincentia, south coast, Wendy has helped with welfare, logistics and fundraising and has attended many fire incidents. A mother and grandmother, she has been a member of the Erowal Bay Brigade, now amalgamated to form the Crossroads Brigade. She has also devoted herself to the Jervis Bay Lions Club (38 years), Girl Guides, Camp Quality, Meals on Wheels and helped many residents with welfare needs. She has helped people with disabilities, and delivered meals to the socially isolated. In her remaining time, she has worked for the local “Litter Busters” to clean up the environment.

VELMA WALKER AFSM – Clerical and administrative duties in the District Office – Shoalhaven

Velma Walker, for 29 years a volunteer assisting the NSW Rural Fire Service, is one of the legion of women, who form the bedrock of the emergency services, often as in her case working in paid employment and looking after a family. Active in service clubs and in choral activities, where she also gained prominence, Velma has helped in fundraising and running community events. Based on the south coast, she has been a secretary and treasurer in the Country Women’s Association (CWA) and helped at the CWA stall at the Royal Easter Show. In the years that her late husband was an ambulance Superintendent, she served with the Women’s Auxiliary and on many occasions, she helped care for children whose parents were in emergency situations.

State Emergency Service Finalists

GERRY BURNAGE – Unit Commander – Ballina

Being an NSW SES Unit Commander at Ballina, on the far north coast, Gerry Burnage is prepared for storms. When Lennox Head was hit by a Tornado in 2010 – an event described as “like a bomb going off” he had to draw on every bit of training when he led a team into deal with the mess. He spent many days and nights helping residents and keeping them safe. Thirty-six years in the Service, a recipient of the Emergency Services Medal, National Medal & Clasp 1,2 NSW SES Life Member, NSW SES 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 & 35 Year Long Service Awards, NSW SES Commissioner’s Unit Citation, as well as a member of the Ballina SES Road Crash Rescue Team.  Gerry has committed himself over the last five years to the Yetties Program to expose youth in the community to volunteering, leadership, and emergency services.

CRAIG GIBBONS – Unit Commander – Oberon

Craig Gibbons, a local electrician in Oberon, has ample call on and serves as an NSW SES Unit Commander, in an area with long stretches of road, heavy traffic, caves and weather cold enough to produce snows. When people get into trouble, Craig, who joined the NSW SES at the age of 17 and has served for more than 26 years, has done many rescues. He has abseiled 150 metres down a cliff, rescued a group of soldiers lost in fog, cut people out of vehicles and cleared fallen logs from roads. Willing to use his electrical skills for the public good, and also a member of the NSW Rural Fire Service, he trains and assesses fellow rescue and fire volunteers and helps young people with their sport. Craig is a recipient of the National Medal & Clasp 1 and NSW SES 5, 10, 15, 20 & 25 Year Long Service Award and the NSW Rural Fire Service 10 Year Long Service Award & Clasp.

KEVIN JONES – Unit Commander – Hawkesbury

There comes a time for just about every rescue volunteer when his own life is on the line, and for Kevin Jones, more than 47 years as an SES volunteer, and presently NSW SES Hawkesbury Unit Commander, that came when a boat overturned in a flood, throwing him and a pregnant woman into the water. He and the woman were able to get out of the boat and Kevin has continued to serve. He has performed in thousands of motor vehicle accidents in one of the busiest rescue units in the state, dropping everything, even while at work at Rural Press, to assist. As an SES Volunteer Kevin has also been part of assisting in the aftermath of many significant events, notably Newcastle Earthquake 1989 and the Thredbo Landslide 1997. For the last 47 years, Kevin has also been a volunteer with the NSW Rural Fire Service.  Kevin is a recipient of the National Medal & Clasps 1, 2 & 3, NSW SES 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 40 & 45 Year Long Service Awards, NSW SES Commissioner’s Unit Citation, NSW SES Commissioner’s Commendation for Service, the NSW SES Medal for the State Medal for the Hunter/Sydney Northern Storms and National Award for the Centenary Medal (for volunteer service to the community).

DAVID KING – Deputy Unit Commander – Hawkesbury

David King, NSW SES Deputy Unit Commander in the Hawkesbury SES, covering a very flood-prone area, has long known that not only humans but the bountiful livestock in the area can be in great peril. It is natural enough that David, 43 years in the service, has specialised in Large Animal Rescue, a skill he is sharing with rescue units across the state. His aim is to ensure families have the best chance to relocate themselves, their livestock and pets in times of flood. Highly commended for this work, David has also reached out to help train a volunteer rescue group in Vanuatu. As a volunteer in the NSW Rural Fire Service for more than 36 years, David is an active member in his brigade and district. David is a recipient of the Emergency Services Medal, National Medal & Clasps 1 & 2, NSW SES 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 & 40 Year Long Service Awards, two NSW SES Commissioner’s Commendation for Service and the SES State Medal for the Hunter/Sydney Northern Storms.

NSW Volunteer Rescue Association Finalists

PHILLIP CORNISH – Captain – Casino

Phil Cornish, with more than 35 years of service in the VRA, has played a captain’s innings. He showed how it was done when he participated in a swift water rescue in 2008, for which he received a Commendation for Bravery. Phil was a foundation member of the VRA Gulgong in 1989 and then moved to Casino where he joined the VRA Casino Rescue Squad. He has served diligently ever since, filling in as treasurer, volunteering for events at the local show, bringing in and mentoring new members and embracing change. He has served as president for several years and is presently the rescue squad captain. Phil received the Premier’s Award for 25 years’ service. He has also received the VRA Medal and the National Medal for Service.

JOSHUA RICKARD – Rescue Operator – Albury

Joshua Ricard threw himself so completely into the search for a Nepalese swimmer missing in the Murray River last year that finally the police had to ask that he stop. A member of the VRA Albury and Border Rescue Squad since 2018, Joshua was unwilling to give up. Joshua is very active with the squad, he is also a member of the welfare organisations Caravan Foundation, Red Cross, Make-a-Wish, Country Hope and Nolan House, and the mental health organisation, Headspace. After rescues, he had cared for fellow rescuers. Josh works with troubled youth. Three days a week as a teacher’s aide with the aspect which helps people on the autism spectrum. Last year 2019 Luke was named Albury’s Young Citizen of the Year.

DOUGLAS STYLES – President, Cessnock VRA – Cessnock

The 1989 earthquake in Newcastle, the first fatal earthquake recorded in Australian history. This shook up the community in more ways than one, especially the VRA operators who went into the disaster to rescue and to assist. Hot on the heels of the rescuers was Douglas Styles, now 33 years with the VRA, President and Deputy Senior Captain with the VRA Cessnock Rescue Squad. Active in administration, fundraising and care of personnel, he worked tirelessly to ensure the welfare of the rescue personnel in the earthquake. More than 40 years with the St John Ambulance, and formerly a member of Mines Rescue, Doug has dedicated most of his life to ensuring that the community in general is well-trained and ready for emergencies.

DANIEL VAN KEIMPEMA – Captain Central Coast RS – Warnervale Central Coast

Descending a cliff or winching up an injured person are part of Daniel Van Keimpema’s work as captain of the VRA Central Coast. When a young boy got his hand stuck in an escalator Daniel was there and that rescue was seen by many on television. A paraglider’s misfortune crashing into a cliff “Crackneck Lookout” was a bigger operation, requiring a descent by rope and winching up to safety. But operations big or small no matter what all matter to Danial. The Squad which can lay claim to being the busiest in the state and has many missions. Earlier this year Daniel joined a Swift Water Rescue Team to do rescues amid severe flooding. When extensions to the Wyong Racing Club this meant the squad had to vacate its home, Daniel went to work and found the squad a new home. Daniel is a valued member of the squad and community.