Get Ready Week 2019
#GetReadyWeek had all of the QLD state emergency and disaster agencies working side by side to prepare our local communities for storm season… with ambassador JT!! 🏈⛈☔️⚡️
Notes. Attended by: SES, QFES, RFS, QAS, DMO, BCC, Red Cross, Lifeline, Bunnings, TMR, ABC Radio w/ Rebecca Livingstone (10min interview). 5x late primary school groups (10+ kids)’ 3x kindy age groups, public on way to/from work. Focus on storm messaging, some bushfire.
Brisbane Region SES Week Awards 2019
Today, I was incredibly honoured to receive a Brisbane Region SES Week 2019 award for special contribution to the State Emergency Service through leading the implementation of community engagement strategies for Brisbane City SES Unit!! So very grateful to the many SES members who have directed my enthusiasm and passion over the last few years (which I know can’t have been easy at times)! I am especially proud to have received the only award today specifically noting community engagement. Thank you so much to whomever sent in a nomination! 🥰🧡🎉
Queensland Fire & Emergency Services – HAZMAT Visit
Brisbane Northern SES group visit to the QLD State HAZMAT unit to learn about their functions. Station Officers took us through the site, educating our members on their role in supporting firefighters with specialty equipment when chemical, radiation, or biological issues arise. Their unit tests and reconditions all of the hazmat suits, breathing apparatus, and scientific firefighting equipment for the whole state.
Operationally speaking, the QLD HAZMAT unit deployed to Townsville to help with the cleanup in the floods at the end of last year, was a part of the teams activated during the G20, and can also be found at any incidence of house fire or gas leak in Brisbane.
Their team of expert scientists, who are also firefighters, liaise with state, federal, and international agencies to ensure that Queensland is up to date with all of their policies and procedures, keeping us as safe as possible! We all learned a lot and we’re grateful to extend or knowledge of the QFES family!
Brisbane Home Show 2019
Community engagement morning chatting everything storm season & emergency kits!! #SES 🧡
State Operations Centre ~ Public Information Officer
Just completed 20hr/2day shift at the State Operations Centre (SOC) shadowing the Public Information Officer (PIO) for the current QLD bushfires.
Absolutely honoured to be in the room where the top brass were making the BIG decisions for this historic fire event, coordinating as they affect several communities across the whole of QLD.
It was a phenomenal learning opportunity that puts me in a position to better assist with or deploy to any disaster event in the state to help with PIO roles such as information/warnings, media liaison, & community liaison.
Thank you to all our wonderful agencies working together to minimise the fire disaster impacts, to all those involved in the massive effort that is controlling the current fires, and to those maintaining the business as usual activities (that don’t just stop when disasters hit)!! Heroes, the lot of you!! 🧡
Many, many thanks to my encouraging and knowledgeable mentor, Trevor Doyle, and fellow trainee, Moreton PIO, Michelle Bowker for all the help and tips!! Look forward to working with you in the future!! ~ AB🌻
(Approval sought for posting photos from inside SOC – yes, I was on the news!)
Wear Orange Wednesday for volunteer week celebrating everything SES with our new STORM HOUSE resources!! #WOWDay
Mini Golf Team Building Night
Helped organise a mini golf team building night for my fellow Brisbane Northern SES Group people! Hope everyone had fun doing the tap tap tapping ☺️🧡⛳️⚡️ #PutterSelfie #StolenGolfBallSelfie
Stafford City Shopping Centre Fundraiser
Tin rattle AM shift crew! Raising money for our Brisbane Northern SES Group Support Club so we can do fun training activities and fund the resources we need to function operationally 🧡
Annual Flood Boat Training
Splish splash training at SES tonight ~ Flood boat familiarisation, put a life jacket on in the water, did some full PPE laps, and then learnt how to use a back board to pull someone out! Trainers really out did themselves 🧡 #yachtsoffun #whateverfloatsyaboat #keepingitreel 🌊👩🏼🚒⛵️ ~ 📸 by Christy Ccg & Nicole
New Years Eve 2019
Pretty cool to be working in the same building that my Poppa Lionel used to work in when he was a police inspector!! SES radio operator for the New Years Eve celebrations in Brisbane City 🎙🎉 Just watched the 8.30pm fireworks from multiple angles on big screens 😍🎆🎉🧡
Training Experience: Brisbane City Council Local Disaster Coordination Centre Earthquake Scenario Exercise ~ Observer/SES Liasion Officer
Halloween Landsearch – Intergroup Exercise
Nudgee Boat Ramp. Radio Operator in IMT.
Ferny Grove School Fete ~ Northern Group ~ Community Engagement
Team Leader. First event run mostly on my own. First time face painting, went really well with the Halloween theme (I really need practice!). Constant stream of families with kids wanting to dress up and climb aboard the flood boat. Lots of discussion about storm season. Minister for Agriculture & Local Councillor both stopped by for long chats! Lots of fun 🧡
Fire Station Visit
Joined tonight’s Monday night mystery exercise visiting the Kemp Place Fire Station in Fortitude Valley!! So interesting to find out more about what skills the firies would most like us SES to have (chainsaw and flood boat), to hear some war stories, and learn about their functional capabilities across the state – from bushfires to road crash rescue to the inner city student accommodation false alarms!👩🏻🚒🔥👨🏻🚒
‘Get Ready Week’
Busy day out with the SES 👩🏻🚒🔥🏚🛠 #GetReadyWeek
Photog 📸 Faye Gibson 🌻
Police Operations Centre (POC) at Police Headquarters in Roma St, Brisbane. Completed Radio Operator communication and administration duties (with mentor).
Operation Knock Knock
First team leader role – 7 members (3 teams) ~ 7.30am-1pm ~ 119 properties engaged, homeowners friendly & appreciative ~ QFES Media Video Interview for Facebook @ 9.30am ~ Learnings: snacks always a winner, & don’t forget the sunscreen!
*Operation Knock Knock is a state-wide, multi-agency community engagement initiative that will mobilise SES in their local communities in an effort to raise awareness of the importance of resilience, preparation for hazards, and community connectedness.*
Grovely State School Fete
SES community engagement event with the flood boat. Lightening overhead really drummed home the ‘be storm ready’ messages!! 🚨⛵️🧡🌦
Water Police Visit
Tonight’s SES training was a visit to the Brisbane Water Police ⚓️ wonderful insight into how we work together in search & rescue situations involving waterways. So much respect for these highly-skilled men and women who hold themselves to such a high standard of operational readiness ⛴🚁🚔🚨
SES Social Nite
Holey Moley Mini Golf & Netherworld arcade gaming…
30 Min Community Engagement Chat
– How/why community engagement contributes to operational readiness
– Resources available for community engagement events
– practice iPad storm safe game & interactive flood maps
– get ready brochures
– physical assets: flood boats, atvs, vehicles etc
– Messaging: what does the public want from us & what we need to make them aware of (questions to ask, info to share – brainstorming session)
– Upcoming fetes, fundraisers & social events
– Future planning
Bridge to Brisbane 2018
Providing crowd and traffic support for the 5km start!! Bit of a rainy day, but much fun 🙂 Lord Mayor Graham Quirk stopped for a quick photo and to shake my hand and say thank you 🎩🙇🏻♀️🧡
White walkers were only on the 10km but it was fun to see the dinosaur!
Fire call centre & State Disaster Coordination Centre visit
*me pretending to be important in the media room 🎥👩🏻🚒🤷🏻♀️…
I may have drawn a bird on their very cool interactive table!
Queensland Rail familiarisation training
Learnt how to emergency open doors, safety around the tracks, & got to have a squiz at the drivers cabin! Bit damp, but very interesting!! 🚧🚂🚃🚉👩🏻🚒
NEW FARM CLINIC: Day Two/Three – River Walkin
Things that have happened in the last two days:
– Paul, Mum, Dad, Erin, Nelson & Bryn have come to visit me which was the highlight of my days. I did 13,000 steps walking by the river today so hopefully will sleep well tonight – having a light shined at you every hour isn’t great for good sleep.
– The nurses still don’t like it when you tell them that you are going for a walk by the river. I just say ‘walk’ now. They ask if you feel ‘safe’ to leave. I said yes.
– Nelson is my therapy dog. He tried to kill cyclists by putting the biggest sticks he could find on the path.
– There is a black house on the river that looks like the Addams family live there (see pic).
– Overheard a girl asking for her shoes back. She had ‘absconded’ and the nurses took them away for 3 weeks so she couldn’t run away/leave again. (She still had socks)
– Nurse didn’t check me back in after I went for a walk yesterday and I got a flip out phone call asking where I was… but I was in my room watching ‘Mad as Hell’ with Paul.
– Returning from a walk today my bag was checked for knives/contraband (I didn’t have any).
– I am allowed out for 8 hours at a time on day leave and I might be here for about 2 weeks. My doctor says that I need to not be in such a rush for everything to work out with my medicine because it doesn’t work fast like I want it to so I can leave. Patience young grasshopper is what she meant to say.
– Yesterday it stormed. TWICE. As my illness is affected by the weather I did not appreciate the gloom.
– I made a ‘Relapse Prevention Plan’ in group therapy today. Working out what my warning signs are, how they are triggered, and specific coping plans for each. Eg. If I start feeling tired and not wanting to go walking, I should probably just go walking. Makes sense right? Wish it was that easy. Will have to work on it. I should also make it clear that by ‘relapse’ I don’t mean it in the usual drug related kind of way. It is about facing up to and trying to change or watch out for any negative behaviours that lead to exacerbation of anxiety or depression (in my case). Like not eating right, not leaving the house, not going to work etc.
– It is really hard to cut steak with a blunt butter knife. I didn’t bother asking for a steak knife because I knew what the answer would be.
– The phone alarm that has been going off all the time I am 82% sure is to wake my neighbour up to go and eat.
– A customer who comes into the library all the time asked me if I worked at the library. I said yes and continued walking. I turned around at dinner to find her sitting at the table next to me. Don’t know who sat down first. I tend to walk looking at the ground around here.
– Still don’t like going to the dining room alone. There were next to no tables left tonight because I left it later. Eating at 5.30pm is hard because I wake up in the middle of the night and need a snack. But if you don’t get in early then all the tables and fruit salad with watermelon is gone (terrible I know!). The food is really nice here though and there are 6 meals a day! I am going to be very fat, very soon. I ask for smaller amounts but apparently that means a heaped scoop of whatever I ask for. Maybe they are making up for the other people who don’t want to eat.
– And the most ridiculous thing to happen today. When the nurse came to take my blood pressure he noticed the framed drawing Paul had left to brighten up my room… and took the glass out of it because people had used such things in the past to hurt themselves. Sigh. The way the nurses talk to you sometimes, like you are a delicate flower. I know it is their job and I can only imagine some of the horrible things they must have seen, and all the times they must have been lied to. It’s no wonder they don’t trust any patient with anything. At least it is safe here.
– Being here makes me feel like an actual crazy person and I have to keep telling myself that this short-term, I will get better, and I am not an actual crazy person.
ABOVE: Addams family house
BELOW: The kitchen gave some left over rice to some cute pigeons out front ❤ (it’s the small things ok!!)
New Farm Clinic: Day 1 – Admission
In the past few months I have not been well… you may have noticed. Months of sporadic time off work, not being able to go to SES and concerts and missing lots of things I care about (like OCCMelb), and sometimes not having the capacity to feed myself, be left alone for long period of time, or even leave the house at all. On top of this, there has been years of psychiatrists who don’t listen, are too far away, and refuse to see me for months on end if I want to be bulk billed… Dad suggested that I try to get into the New Farm Clinic to get sorted out (because this is where the footballers go so they must get results! Sound logic!). So here I am. Absolutely terrified for days worrying about what it would be like, and now I am here and it’s only day one.
From the attire of those I first saw on my admission to the clinic, my days of pedantic worry in regards to not bringing formal enough casual clothes were completely unfounded. Sitting the required 5m away from the entry to the building was a small group of pyjama clad, ugg boot wearing, skinny, smoking teenagers. Although I knew I probably had zero in common with any of them (other than now being admitted to a mental clinic) I did felt a little less self-conscious (knowing that jeans would be ok!).
An overly manicured, young, blonde woman completed my admission details with the same tone and vigour as my boss… who doesn’t really care about people who have mental illness except for the fact that it is a part of her job she just has to deal with. Which is fine. You don’t get it unless you live it. That’s fine. I had Paul to cry on/holding my hand. She did mention that the website had changed with the visiting hours (to my horror) and then said that no, no, they had relaxed the rules and I can have visitors pretty much whenever in the daytime/evening (sigh on relief).
A lovely unit manager came and collected us and brought us up to what will be my residence (for god knows how long) in which I at least have my own small bedroom and ensuite to hide away in. After Paul left and my initial assessment was completed with the nurse (are you ok, what are you doing here, do you hurt yourself, are you going to kill yourself etc etc.), I had my first real break down since being here, being left on my own. I set to making the room feel less like a hospital space and more like I lived there (failed) by putting a Harry Potter scarf on the end of the bed, putting my clothes away, and spraying perfume about the place. So it just smelled like a Priceline that a messy teenager inhabited. Great fail. Luckily it wasn’t much longer before my new psychiatrist showed up and we sorted out some of what I will need to do. We have a solid plan. She is super lovely.
Turns out I am one of the lucky few, being not suicidal or having suicidal thoughts (at the moment). Just a medication change. Off one and on to another so that my moods can stabilise and I will be able to feel like I am a (mostly) normal human bean again. That will be nice. But today is the first day. And I don’t know for how may days I will be here. I don’t know what my side effects will be or if they will be severe from either commencement of new drugs or the withdrawal from another. I don’t know and neither do the staff.
My first interaction with another patient was the girl across the hall. I had read on the hospital website that you have to pay for the tv that was in my room. So I wheeled mine out into the hall. I have my Netflix. She was sitting on her bright pink bedspread in bring pink, fluffy pjs, her name was Amanda too (of course it was). She said it must be my first time here and not be afraid (I was crying at being spoken to by this nice – but obviously sicker than me – pink unicorn) but I could keep the tv, everyone has one these days (they really need to update that website!). She said not to do anything stupid or they would take all your stuff away, that they had taken all her stuff, and they were checking on her every 15 minutes. I was only getting checked on ever 30 minutes as a Category 3, but am now a Category 1 after assessment – every 2 hour checks. I feel pretty lucky because it means I can go out and go for walks by the river which will be really nice.
Dinner was sad. I didn’t want to go. I hate going alone to new places, let alone a mental hospital cafeteria. But after a few tears I finally dragged my starving butt down there and the food was really lovely (veggie risotto with extra veggies and fruit pudding!). I felt really bad though because I was scoffing it all down because I hadn’t eaten since lunch and I looked up from watching my iPad to see a big group of eating disorder patients. Some had feeding tubes. If you haven’t already, you should watch the Keanu Reeves movie ‘To The Bone’ on Netflix. But regime of support here seems really positive, as it does for me with the group sessions that I will start tomorrow.
My room overlooks a ice courtyard where I might go to read tomorrow. The person on the other side of the wall has a time set every hour and sometimes it just keeps going for flipping ages. I really hope that stops once everyone goes to bed. I wonder what its for. I recognised a woman who comes into the library from time to time, she is a beautiful old lady who reminds me of my late Nana. I don’t think she recognised me but that’s probably for the best. The nice nurse said to be friendly but not friends with the people here is for the best. That I just needed to stabilise and stay away from stressful things. My light keeps flickering. I’m going to bed. I hope it isn’t like last time I was in hospital and I woke up to someone down the hall murderously screaming. I was also told that people try to smoke in the building semi-regularly so be ready to be evacuated. Sigh.
Just keep telling myself that this is for the best. That I will be back at work soon, back doing all the things I care about. I might keep writing because I have nothing really better to do. So if you have questions about what it is like being in a mental hospital/clinic, or if you want to come and go for a walk with me then let me know. I will be here x