A major Salvation Army Emergency Services operation has been underway in Far North Queensland for several weeks during September/October to support fire crews and other emergency services personnel working to contain three major bushfires on the Atherton Tablelands.
Queensland, NSW and ACT Salvation Army Emergency Services director, Norm Archer, said when the longevity of the response was realised, support crews from further afield such as Townsville, Innisfail, Brisbane and even as far south as Sydney were mobilised to provide support. Cairns SAES volunteers had already joined the effort within the first week.
Atherton corps officer (minister), Lieutenant Kate Cathcart, said it was the first time in the past four years that the corps (church) had used its emergency services team for a response like this.
The team was called in on 17 September by the Queensland Fire Service to feed hundreds of firefighters and other personnel three meals a day in a number of locations.
“Our people have been doing an amazing job,” Lieutenant Cathcart said. “Not just in feeding the firefighters but manning evacuation centres when tasked to do so, changing locations as needed and responding to the changing environment.”
Norm says the situation in Far North Queensland is a reminder for SAES crews to be ready for a call-out at any time.
“This is just a taste of what may lie ahead for us everywhere this summer,” he said.