Our psychological safety is just as important as our physical safety. Working as a first responder in emergency services means we are exposed to circumstances and events that others would rarely see. Just like physical safety, there are steps we can take to eliminate or minimise our exposure to psychological risk. Our People and Culture team recently discussed with me some tips on how to include psychological safety into our daily practices:
• Minimise your exposure to traumatic images and sounds wherever possible. If you coordinate training for others in CFA, this should be a key message.
• Remove yourself and your team members wherever possible - if a turn out involves an MVA and fatality, keep non-essential personnel at a distance from the scene. Make sure crew members are not exposed for too long.
• Prepare yourself wherever possible - identify things that may be distressing to you and plan how you might deal with them.
• Look after each other and activate support services (such as peers) when you need to.
• Most importantly, be prepared to talk about your feelings and ask for help if you don't feel right.
The Board acknowledges the workload of brigades in support of the State Emergency Service. Once again, the emergency services have been the lifeblood of their communities and we thank you for your outstanding work.
Community messaging, operational briefings and strategic planning are being influenced by this forecast. An example is the deployment of a secure medium tactical helicopter and a fixed wing aircraft to the Mallee for the first time, to help mitigate the fire risk during harvesting.
At its January meeting the Board endorsed this new mission statement for CFA: "CFA is a community based fire and emergency service whose mission is to protect lives and property." This is a very important statement for CFA. It gives the whole organisation a clear focus and outcome to strive for. No matter who we are, or what position we hold in the organisation, our mission is the same: "To protect lives and property". The mission statement gives prominence to the protection of life. This was a matter that was highlighted in the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission. This mission gives us a clear and unambiguous goal that will motivate everything that we do in CFA. It will influence how we structure the organisation, how we allocate resources and how we measure our success. Over the coming months you will hear many references to the mission as we focus on supporting our people at the front line and those who are delivering our services to the community.