Southwick MP presents ESTA team-members with National Emergency Medals

Parliamentary Secretary for Police and Emergency Services David Southwick has today praised triple zero call takers and dispatchers at the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA) for their work during the devastating 2009 bushfires.

Representing the Minister for Police and Emergency Services Kim Wells, Mr Southwick presented National Emergency Medals today at a ceremony in Melbourne.

“ESTA personnel were at the frontline of the bushfire campaign taking a wave of calls from across the state assisting Victorians during a period of great destruction and loss,” Mr Southwick said.

“At its peak on Black Saturday, more than 10,600 calls were received by ESTA.

“Each recipient of the National Emergency Medal played an important role, and I commend them for their courage and commitment in exceptionally difficult circumstances.”

The recipients are among 362 ESTA personnel who are receiving the National Emergency Medal in recognition of their service during those fires.

The National Emergency Medal carries a clasp engraved with ‘Vic Fires 09’ and recognises sustained service during a declared, nationally significant emergency.

“Each of you played an enormous part in ensuring the information coming in was understood and processed effectively so those physically fighting the fires could be most usefully deployed,” Mr Southwick said.

“Teams and individuals at ESTA played a central role in dealing with the fires on and around Black Saturday and you were very much dealing with the human scale of the disaster as it unfolded.”

Mr Southwick said ESTA staff received thousands of calls responding to people in panicked, chaotic and desperate situations.

“You were part of a mighty effort to protect communities during an incredibly difficult time that couldn’t have been easy and on behalf of all Victorians we thank you for your efforts,” Mr Southwick said.

Mr Southwick said the Napthine Government had a strong commitment to ensuring Victoria’s emergency services were equipped with the resources needed to do their job.

“As part of the 2014-15 Victorian Budget the Coalition Government has committed $15 million to upgrade critical systems to support emergency call-taking and dispatch services at ESTA,” Mr Southwick said.

“This is in addition to the rollout of a $66.24 million Regional Radio Dispatch Service communications system to all regional CFA stations across the state, providing direct voice communications between firefighters responding to incidents in regional Victoria and ESTA operators.

“The Coalition Government is committed to building a better and safer Victoria and ensuring our emergency services are equipped to respond safely and effectively to emergencies.”

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