Home' Army News : February 3rd 2011 Contents ''
Army SPECIAL LIFTOUT February 3, 2011
We had more than 100 people come by to get water
and we'd see some people four times a day.
CAPT DARREN CARTER -- 31/42RQR
IN HIS time as Director General
of the Defence Community
Organisation (DCO), Michael Callan
has managed coordinated responses
to a lot of crises.
But having the parent of a deployed
member sob their thanks for some-
one taking an interest during the
Queensland floods was something
"We had an inkling early on, as the
waters began to rise, that we'd become
involved with those deployed members
who couldn't be there to help their
families," Mr Callan said.
"Locating families and making sure
they were all right was a major priority
DCO's aim was simple: to contact
the families of deployed members who
lived in the flood zone and establish if
they were safe, if they had been evacu-
ated or were going to be evacuated,
and if any extra support was needed to
help them through the flood crisis.
To help achieve this, DCO estab-
lished a call centre capability at their
Headquarters where they made hun-
dreds of phone calls.
DCO used the National Welfare
Coordination Centre at HQJOC as the
coordination point for incoming calls
from family members.
DCO found itself acting in an
assessment and information exchange
situation, putting people in touch with
the agencies they needed.
This was not an unusual task; it's
part of the DCO model. DCO put
together a community crisis plan
which listed all the agencies fami-
lies would need during and after the
"In cases where it was obvious that
a family was not able to help itself we
would do that for them and alert the
appropriate agencies to the problem.
That was a major lesson learned," Mr
"We kept the three Services and
HQJOC informed of progress in con-
An early challenge for DCO was
loss of contact with three of its offices
in Queensland, comprising about 30
Rising water had knocked out
communications and staff couldn't
continue to operate in the areas where
DCO needed them.
Most of them managed to make
their way to evacuation centres, where
they continued working to locate
Defence families or helping the broad-
Another issue that became very
obvious early on in the crisis was that
it could become very hard to find peo-
ple when basic infrastructure broke
"That's still an ongoing problem
for us because with the amount of
damage inflicted we can't make con-
tact with some people," Mr Callan
"A key lesson for us was a lot of
the personal information in PMKeyS
was out of date and made it really dif-
ficult to find families.
"It became time consuming as
we had to cross check two or three
"If I had a wish list it would be
to tell everyone to get their PMKeyS
entries up to date"
He said he can prepare for anything
and turn on the head of a pin to pro-
vide services, but it's pointless if ADF
personnel's personal information was
"This was what slowed us down
and made things very difficult, so
that'd be top of the wish list."
At the flood peak DCO was in con-
tact with over 700 families, in one day.
Nothing was too much trouble from
organising emergency accommodation
to extending car hire arrangements; all
was achieved with ordinary phones,
mobile phones and computers.
DCO coordinates a helping hand during flooding
IT was a case of deja vu for veteran Kevin
Lunny when confronted by the news on the
floods that affected Queensland and other
parts of Australia.
Mr Lunny recalled that as a former captain
in 6RAR he deployed in a company group to
aid in the clean-up of the 1974 floods.
He knows firsthand what is involved in
rebuilding lives after such a disaster.
"I remember we worked flat out for about
six weeks cleaning up in Chelmer, Graceful
and the Queensland University Regiment
areas," Mr Lunny said
Sydney-based Mr Lunny is offering a
unique way to help veterans affected by the
floods by offering to polish, re-ribbon and
mount any damaged medals free of charge.
"I have been mounting medals profession-
ally for about 16 years, and I thought I might
offer my services to those affected by the
floods," he said.
Mr Lunny has also offered to replace any
lost medals with high quality replicas at mini-
mal cost. For more information contact him on
(02) 9938 3572 or 0410 519968, or email
for lost medals
to a flood zone
PERSONNEL from 11 Bde,
assigned to JTF 637 answered
the call for help during the
Queensland floods to provide
clean water for the residents of
the town of Theodore.
Capt Darren Carter, 31/42RQR,
Sgt Brian Shephard and Sgt Chris
Chase, both from 35 Fd Sqn,
deployed to Theodore, 200km south
of Rockhampton on January 6.
They arrived aboard two 5 Avn
Regt aircraft, a Black Hawk and a
Chinook, which carried their water
purification unit by an external
Capt Carter said it was a ghost
town and only the police, a cook
and publican at the pub were still
"It was pretty much an empty
town, with rubbish outside the pub,"
Capt Carter said.
"Between 300-400 houses had
been flooded and [the] houses were
full of mud."
The three men were tasked to
assist the Theodore council and
water board to assess the damage to
their water supply system.
"We provided potable water to
the town as the pumps which trans-
ferred water from the river to the
pipes were damaged and were sent
away to be rebuilt," Capt Carter
"After testing water we'd puri-
fied on January 6 and early January
7, we were cleared to provide pota-
ble water on the afternoon of the
"Our equipment pumped and
purified more than 260,000l of
water over the period; it was used
by both the water board to diag-
nose any problems, such as cracks
The team also helped locals with
the cleaning of their homes.
"From January 10, when locals
were allowed back into town to
begin the clean up, they used our
purified water to wash down hous-
es with high pressure hoses, after
collecting it in 1000l water tanks,"
Capt Carter said.
"We had more than 100 peo-
ple come by to get water and we'd
sometimes see some people four
times a day."
The local population appreciated
Even though they had little to
offer, they managed to show Capt
Carter and his men what generosity
and humour they could.
"They were pretty stoic and
appreciative that other people had
turned up to give them a hand,"
Capt Carter said.
"One day we were walking back
from our site to our accommodation
and there were a couple of blokes
sitting outside their house having
"They asked us 'do you want a
beer?' The soldiers replied 'no sorry
we're on the dry'.
"They were covered in mud, the
house was decimated and had half
of their belongings on the medium
strip. One of the blokes looks at it
all and said 'well, bugger me, and I
thought I was in a bad way'."
Capt Carter and his team spent
nine days working in Theodore and
departed on January 14.
Water contamination a major concern in flood-affected areas
A 5 AVN Regt Chinook transported 13
tonnes of essential food and supplies from
St George to the flood-isolated, cotton-
growing town of Dirranbandi on January 17.
Dirranbandi is a 120km drive south of St
George and has 450 residents. The main roads
have been cut off by flood waters.
The Defence Liaison Officer for St George,
Capt Les Tobin, said Dirranbandi would
remain isolated for several more weeks.
"This resupply contains general foodstuffs
such as dry, chilled and frozen goods as well
as medical supplies for Dirranbandi's hospi-
tal," Capt Tobin said.
Local resident Kimberley Gillan said the
town appreciated the delivery.
"Daily necessities like bread, milk and
baby formula have been getting pretty scarce,"
Ms Gillan said.
The Chinook's pilot, Capt Rob Tyler, is on
exchange with 5 Avn Regt from the Canadian
Air Force. He said the supplies had to be care-
fully positioned in the cargo area.
"We have to be very careful when loading
pallets that the forklift doesn't hit the air-
craft because that can cause a lot of damage,"
Captain Tyler said.
"Moving supplies is what a Chinook does
best -- that's what it's designed to do."
HEAVY AIRLIFT: Aircrews and emergency workers unload water-purification supplies from a 5 Avn
Photo by Cpl Rachel Ingram
food, hope and
Links Archive December 9th 2010 February 17th 2010 Navigation Previous Page Next Page