Riddells Creek 72 Hour Emergency Team will ensure its community has a plan immediately following a disaster event.
Last week, that group of 15 community leaders was honoured for its work so far with the Connecting Communities Award in Macedon Ranges Shire Council’s 2024 Community Awards.
The response team was established last year, as part of the Resilient Riddell project and What Riddell Wants community initiative led by Riddells Creek Neighbourhood House.
Members have worked closely with the council and other emergency agencies to understand how emergency management works and to research assets and vulnerabilities impacting on the town’s resilience to disaster.
They have developed strategies that address the gaps in the first 72 hours after an emergency for when the community could be without support from external agencies.
Riddells Creek Neighbourhood House community development manager, Lisa Linton, said the group began work in July last year with a series of workshops and training.
“Resilience is all about being able to look after yourself in an emergency,” she said.
“We know by looking at past major disasters like Black Saturday that often in the first 72 hours of an emergency it is more difficult to get support in and also to get people out of the immediate impacted area.
“It’s really good for people to know there is something in place. Panic generally comes when there is no plan.”
The team identified bushfire/grassfire and storm as the two of the highest ranked vulnerabilities for Riddells Creek.
Strategies developed included identifying and set-up of community convergence spaces, looking after vulnerable people in the community, and working closely with key agencies such as the local CFA to bolster residents understanding of bushfire risk.
The group recently coordinated the purchase and installation of an automated external defibrillator for public access at the Neighbourhood House after an audit showed that none were readily accessible by the public 24 hours a day.
Members also supported a Women in Emergencies lunch and invited local women to understand gender in emergencies and how they can lead and support their community to become more aware of the risks and enable increased resilience.
The work of the team is ongoing but core plans are expected to be complete in about three months.
The same team will soon be involved in strengthening community recovery knowledge to understand how to revive a town after disaster.