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2015 News Releases




WICEN during South Australian bushfires

Date : 07 / 01 / 2015
Author : Jim Linton - VK3PC

The bushfire that burned uncontrolled for many days since early new year in the Adelaide hills blackened more than 12,500 hectares of land, destroyed numerous houses, sheds and at least four business. The bush and grass fires in temperatures about 40 degrees (Celsius) and winds over 90km/h, sent 23 people, including firefighters to hospital. One man remains in a serious condition after being hit by a falling tree. It is sheep and cattle country with the loss of about 120 animals. Forecast cooler weather was to dampen the fire threat, but locals know they need to remain vigilant and prepared for the rest of summer.

WICEN President Nic McLean VK5ZAT reports that he has been at the One Tree Hill staging area assisting, including the issuing of handheld radios to SAVEM (SA Veterinary Emergency Management) a Response and Recovery agency for animals, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. WICEN has commercial UHF handhelds available and also set up an aluminium mast and antenna at the base station to give a more reliable range. Nic VK5ZAT says WICEN works very closely with SAVEM, enabling the veterinary community to effectively respond to any emergency incident involving companion animals, wildlife and livestock.

While SAVEM can't provide an evacuation service for pets and other animals, which should be in personal emergency plans, it helps any animals caught up in an emergency. An approach to WICEN by SAVEM in late 2013 resulted in an agreement of help being provided with communications. Nic VK5ZAT says SAVEM with its veterinarians and nurses has been doing good work triaging, treating and euthanising animals, and where possible some emotional support to the farmers and owners of the animals.

Having WICEN South Australia support with communication facilities has made the vital humanitarian work a lot easier, and given radio amateurs a new worthy additional customer.


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