National winners - RESCA 2

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National Winners
Erin Pogmore - NSW Fire & Rescue
There is nothing that brings home the trauma of disaster than the rescuer becoming a victim. Last year, Erin, a Leading Firefighter and water rescue instructor with Fire & Rescue, was fighting a fire last year when her own home burnt down.
Now with 19 years of service with SES and 11 as a firefighter, Erin dealt with her catastrophe the best way she could and turned up the very next day for duty. Working from Sydney, she has been active across the state in a training capacity, including work with the Water Rescue Team, drawing as necessary on her 19 years of experience as a Swiftwater Rescue Technician.
Following recent disasters, Erin conceived a First Responders Resilience Program and gained government to develop it. Erin has mentored rescue trainees on shift to assist in their accreditation and is a current board member of the Women in Firefighting Australasia.
She is the first and only Australian to receive Higgins & Langley Special Commendation for development of training and safety towards rescuers and was a guest at the Helicopter Association International in Texas, USA on aviation safety for emergency responders. She also a winner of the Rotary Rural Inspirational Women’s Award and Mental Health Foundation Australia.

Graham John Symons - Vic Country Fire Authority
Graham's lifelong dedication to his local community is exceptional and spans various roles including Omeo Fire Brigade member for over 40years and Captain for over 10 years, as well as an Ambulance Victoria Community Officer for 33 years. Graham is on the committees for the Omeo Recreation Reserve, Omeo & District Agricultural & Pastoral Society, Omeo Shire Lions Club, RSL organiser for Remembrance services for 10+ years, CFA Group Officer and Omeo Fire Brigade Group delegate and the Livingstone Park Development Committee for 10 years Graham's proactive fire preparedness, establishment of community resources, mentoring, and consistent availability demonstrate his indispensability. His support during the 2019-20 fires and respected role in community meetings highlight his deep impact. Graham's unwavering commitment embodies true responsibility and care, making a lasting difference in his community

Loryn Reynolds – ACT Policing - Paid Capacity
Loryn has been with ACT Policing for nearly 15 years. She has worked in a number of areas, most recently as a peer support officer in the ACT Police Welfare Team. Recently she was recognised with the Commissioner’s Medal for Conspicuous Conduct for going above and beyond her regular duties. Loryn is the first to volunteer to assist in a crisis, be it local or further afield, and is a long-time member and Chair of her children’s school board. In her spare time, Loryn coaches a local basketball team and supports regional agricultural shows as a judge and steward.

Tracy Provest – NSW SES - Volunteer Capacity
The Black Summer bushfires will linger long in collective emergency service memory, not least with the Ulladulla SES unit on the south coast, which was operational for 67 consecutive days, catering for up to 370 people daily clearing roads, doorknocking and doing welfare checks. Few could be more qualified than the unit commander than Tracy Provest, an SES volunteer for 48 years, who has qualified in the operation of flood boats, chain saws, general rescue, incident control and planning. With a service record extending also to the mid-north coast – an SES region taking in Lord Howe Island – this former high school principal has built up the strength of the Ulladulla unit from 40 to 80 members in her four years in the top job.


Andrew Ryan– NSW Ambulance - Paid capacity
Years ago, Andrew Ryan became dedicated to the idea of providing a permanent round the clock rescue helicopter for the Illawarra region, and, beginning in 1998, he worked for months without pay with a paramedic team to medically man such a helicopter. That helicopter service is now renowned. Andrew has been involved in the response to many disasters, including the Thredbo Landslide, the New Zealand Earthquake and numerous bushfire emergencies. Andrew also performed a dangerous night-time helicopter rescue of a family trapped on a roof by floodwaters. He was also instrumental in the rescue and care of a workmate fatally injured in an accident near Robertson, where he cared for the victim’s family too.

Christopher Puschak – ACT Rural Fire Service - Volunteer capacity
Chris has been involved with the emergency services for 24 years and is currently working as Treasurer of the Hall Volunteer Rural Fire Brigade while also being an active volunteer Firefighter. He played a vital role in the 2019 fire season where he defended regions of Nerriga, Adaminaby, Tumut, and Orroral Valley. Here, he volunteered to do additional shifts and also stayed back to support the wellbeing of his crew since they had limited operational experience. Besides firefighting, he is a Venture Scout Leader and passionately shares his knowledge about abseiling, 4wding, canoeing and bushwalking.


Susith Adikari – ACT Ambulance
Susith is an intensive care paramedic and has dedicated 13 years to the Emergency Services for both domestic and international causes, most notably the British Columbia Bushfires (Canada) in 2017 and the recent Canberra bushfires in 2020. Along with his duty as a primary responder with the ACT Ambulance Service (ACTAS), Susith is passionate about disseminating the wealth of knowledge and experience he has acquired over the years to help develop the next crop of graduate paramedics for ACT. With an altruistic commitment towards protecting the community, Susith completed a Masters in Disaster Resilience and Sustainable Development to equip himself to face the changing times and challenges. He has held numerous positions as a member of the ACTAS and the ACT Rural Fire Services (RFS).

WENDY ROBERTS – Volunteer – Shoalhaven
Longevity in emergency services is commendable, but Wendy, having chalked up 58 years, might have set a record. A volunteer with the NSW RFS, based at Vincentia, Wendy has helped with welfare, logistics, fundraising and attended many fire incidents. She has been a member of the Erowal Bay Brigade, now 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.


ANTHONY WALLER – Superintendent, Zone Commander – Illawarra - Winner in Paid Capacity
Anthony Waller, a Superintendent with Fire and Rescue NSW, based in the Illawarra, has never been far from saving lives. In 2001 he was both the Sydney and NSW Lifesaver of the Year, and is presently education director and board member of Surf Life Saving NSW. But his professional input has been on that other hazard, fire. He has been a firefighter for 38 years, more than 20 of them as a firefighter educator. Among his operations, he was a team leader in an Australian earthquake task force in Christchurch. In 2017 he was Operations Officer in a NSW cyclone taskforce in Proserpine, Queensland. In the same year he was Base Manager in a flood evacuation operation the northern NSW.

PAUL MARSHALL – Captain of the Albury and Border Rescue Squad – Albury - Winner in Volunteer Capacity
Paul, a serving member of the Victoria Police Highway Patrol, is the captain of the Albury and Border Rescue Squad in the NSW VRA. He has promoted interagency cooperation locally, sharing his knowledge of how vehicles react to crashes and the investigative process that follows. He is also involved in the management of emergencies and critical incidents, bushfire awareness and frontline management. In 2017, he was part of a team that travelled to Vanuatu, teaching the local rescuers skills such as road crash rescue, vertical and swift water rescue. Once the job is done, he always actively checks on the welfare of rescuers and the victims involved

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