Pinery Fire News - November 2015
- November 30 2015 SAVEM vets and nurses rescue animals affected by the Pinery bushfires in South Australia. ABC 891
- November 30 2015 Interview with Rachel Westcott. Breakfast with Matthew Abraham and David Bevan on 891 ABC Adelaide
- December 1 Interview with Rachel Westcott. Mornings with Sarah Tomlinson. ABC North & West SA
Pinery Fire update 4 December
One SAVEM team of two veterinarians and two nurses left Adelaide University Roseworthy Campus at about 1130.
Conditions were very warm, but the wind was much less severe that previous days. Task list included horses, a dog, cat, goat and kangaroos. The first call was to two Hamley Bridge properties where 8 horses and a goat required health checks after being exposed to severe smoke. We attempted to visit and monitor a female adult kangaroo with at-foot joey on our way to the next call, but Monday's strong winds had shifted a great deal of sand and debris across the road and it was not safe to proceed.
On our drive across the fireground we passed many beautiful old stone homes which had been burnt. Crossing the Light River at a spillway complete with flood markers, we admired a small wetland and water birds - a soothing sight among the burned farms.
On the western side of the fireground we were called to check a dog and two horses. Unfortunately the cat needing attention at this location could not be found.
Team was stood down from Roseworthy at about 1800.
Pinery Fire: SAVEM sit-rep Monday 30 November 2015
Local weather conditions were very hot and windy, with temps of 32C and gusty northwesterly winds. Large quantities of airborne sand and dust made visibility less than 20m on the fireground at times. Dangerous flare up of spot fires in trees and hay stacks also delayed deployment of SAVEM teams.
One team of 2 vets left the Roseworthy Companion Animal Health Centre at 1120 in the SAVEM jeep. A drive round the local roads east of Roseworthy campus and Mudla Wirra road yielded no animal sightings, despite using the thermal imaging camera, and driving conditions were so difficult that the team were ordered back to base at 1310.
Later in the afternoon another team drove out to check the Kapunda Wild Dog Hill Road area. This more timbered, hilly country is thought to be a possible refuge for more wildlife. A large male horned goat was found wandering at large between 2 major roads. PIRSA, RSPCA and the vet school were notified, and SAPOL informed due to the potential danger to road users if visibility again deteriorated.
Mount Lofty CFS reported a possibly injured Kangaroo and joey (for monitoring) at a location north of Mallala, and another CFS QRV vehicle had picked up a burnt Brush-tail possum to hand over for care. Worsening conditions on fireground required stand-down for the day.
SAVEM is actioning calls for assistance from members of the public as they are received.
SAVEM was placed on Standby for the Pinery fire on the evening of Wednesday 25 November. We were activated early Thursday morning.
The Coordinator and the Logistics manager attended a PIRSA briefing on Thursday 26, and attended the fireground on a surveillance mission on Thursday afternoon, calling in at Roseworthy Campus and to Incident Control at Angaston.
On Friday morning we were briefed at Angaston CFS by PIRSA, and deployed two teams to fireground, where we commenced sector surveillance, outreach visits to farms, attended to calls from the public for assistance with companion animals and horses, and assisted PIRSA teams with livestock assessment.
The SAVEM Control Centre was set up at Roseworthy Campus Companion Animal Health Centre, with full support from the University staff.
Two teams were deployed to fireground on Saturday and Sunday. By this time wildlife calls were beginning to come in.
On Monday, conditions on fireground worsened with strong northerly winds, and dust and ash caused visibility and OHSW issues. Mindful of this, SAVEM was still able to send out one team. Reports of wildlife in distress continued, particularly from CFS and other agencies on the ground. Some wildlife in open burned crop paddocks are being monitored. It is likely more wildlife will appear from hiding in coming days.
This Response is very different from Sampson Flat in January. Livestock are the worst impacted, and PIRSA have had a huge task to manage that. However there is still work for SAVEM to do.
Kyeema Fire News - November 2015
SAVEM ACTIVATION REPORT – KYEEMA FIRE 19, 20 & 22 November 2015
SAVEM was Activated for the Kyeema fire by the PIRSA State Controller on Thursday, 19 November. Overnight intelligence from the fireground, via a PIRSA staff member who is also a CFS volunteer, was that no adverse animal incidents had been reported. No livestock had been impacted. Kangaroos, possums, echidnas, birds and reptiles are the most common wildlife species in the area. Koalas are rare.
The SAVEM Coordinator and the Logistics manager signed in to the Staging area at 1400 on Thursday 19 November, and reported to Incident Control in the Willunga Council Chambers. Briefing and mapping support was provided by the Deputy Incident Controller. Firescar was 86 hectares: with most of the area being very steep and rocky, with some areas of swamp. The fire was slow-moving, and the feeling was most macropods could outrun the firefront. A burned possum had been taken to Willunga Veterinary Services earlier in the day, but was euthanased, much to the disappointment of the CFS crews involved in its rescue.
On fireground, SAVEM liaised with DEWNR/NRM as well as CFS personnel, and met with some some local residents. All residences in the fireground along Enterprise Road and Burma Road were letter-boxed with SAVEM contact details. Due to the terrain, access was limited to public roads and some firebreaks. A local resident reported seeing a larger than usual number of red-bellied black snakes crossing Burma Road, heading west away from the fire, and other surviving animals may come out of the fireground in coming days.
SAVEM volunteers monitored the fireground on Friday 20 November, and ran a surveillance action over the perimeter again on the morning of Sunday 22 November. No injured or dead animals were seen.
Local people noticing animals in distress know to contact Willunga Veterinary Services which is well known in the area, and is on alert for wildlife cases. SAVEM can assist with advice if required. Many thanks to Dr Simon Edwards, one of SAVEM’s Operations Managers, for his contribution to this Activation.
Sampsons Flat Bushfire News - January 2015
Update (18th Jan)
Fourteen SAVEM volunteers attended the Kersbrook Triage centre and formed two field teams. This was supplemented today by 9 Fauna Rescue volunteers, who were provided with safety briefing, additional PPE and WICEN vehicle-to-vehicle radios.
Surviving animals injured over two weeks ago are now seriously ill. Down kangaroos with burns, fractures and fly-blown wounds are still our major tasking. Inside the Triage centre a lamb, magpie and cat were admitted and discharged after treatment.
At the end of the afternoon, the crew disassembled the Triage centre and returned the facility to the Kersbrook community with our sincere thanks. SAVEM representatives will continue to attend community meetings, including the Community Reference Group established by Recovery Coordinator Karlene Maywald.
SAVEM has now stood down from a 15 day activation. We expect a reduced number of calls for SAVEM assistance in the coming week, but will respond to taskings with on-call teams on an as-needs basis. We expect not to be able to access the area on Tuesday and Thursday this week, due to the Tour Down Under operating in the area.
Update (17th Jan)
Fourteen volunteers again met at Kersbrook Triage centre.
Twenty taskings were undertaken in 3 teams. Three koalas were released and 3 euthanased kangaroos were collected by Animal Welfare League. A few sheep are still receiving follow up care. One burn-injured cat was surrendered by its owners for rehoming, and one bird was admitted and died in hospital.
Food and water has been placed in one badly fire affected area of the forest.
Early on Saturday morning the Coordinator gave a Skype interview with National Public Radio (NPR) in Boston, USA.
Sunday 18th is programmed as the final formal day at the Kersbrook Triage centre, and teams of 3 or 4 will be assigned "on call" rostered duties to respond to calls from the public.
Update (16th Jan)
Fourteen volunteers attended the Kersbrook Triage Centre and undertook 17 taskings. These resulted in 2 koalas being transferred to Adelaide Zoo, and euthanasia of several joeys and kangaroos.
After this length of time in the fireground, animals are now presenting with infected and flyblown wounds.
DEWNR advised that fireground forest areas have not been assessed, and therefore should be treated as unsafe.
As we start to wind down the Triage centre, we are following Dept of Communities & Social Inclusion (DCSI) processes by spending money in the local town, buying fuel and support materials here.
We ask our volunteers to look in their cars for any SAVEM equipment they may have used and not yet returned, e.g. hard hats, overalls, goggles etc, which need to be returned to SAVEM Logistics Store - to be prepared in readiness for next time.
We are planning to close the Triage centre on Sunday at 1800. We will advise later about upcoming After Action Reviews.
There will also be a social event for all SAVEM volunteers who have assisted during this activation.
Update (15th Jan)
We had 18 people out today. At one time 5 teams were in the field covering 20 field calls over the whole fire zone. We were able to attempt forays into some of the forest zones on fire tracks for surveillance of injured animals further afield.
Unfortunately we are still finding kangaroos with severe burns on their feet, infected wounds, and several with severe myopathy were seen and euthanased. One koala was released after care to a safe refuge with adequate browse close to his original home, and another received ongoing care before intended release tomorrow at a suitable local site. One joey was rescued and sent to Adelaide zoo hospital for continued care for minor burns to the feet. A pouch young possum was sent to care for hand rearing.
Several calls requesting sources of lucerne hay for wildlife starving in the fire ground were answered with some hay available at Kersbrook oval and the contact numbers for Livestock SA given out to locals in need. The number of the EPA was given to locals with animals needing burial.
PIRSA's media officer was an invaluable help in providing us with professional guidance regarding inaccuracies in media reports, thereby taking the added burden off the ops centre staff.
The Coordinator and the Logistics Manager attended the first Community Reference Group meeting at the invitation of Commissioner Karlene Maywald. It is likely that SAVEM will have an ongoing role in this process.
Update (14th Jan)
Thirteen volunteers comprised three field teams, including an RSPCA unit as usual, and an active Triage centre.
Fifteen tasks were completed during the day, and there were four admissions to the Triage centre.
Karlene Maywald, Head of Recovery, and CFS Region 2 Commander John Hutchins and Ronnie Faggotter from DCSI visited the Triage centre during the day.
Several taskings involved monitoring the condition of known kangaroos in the field by the Veterinary field teams.
Overall admissions to the Triage centre since the start of the SAVEM response are about to enter triple figures.
Update (13th Jan)
Eighteen SAVEM volunteers included staff of the RSPCA and the Adelaide University Production Animal Health Centre's mobile Veterinary team.
The inclement weather contributed to fewer incoming calls and notifications from the public. SAVEM field teams attended both specific sites, and general surveillance of areas previously noted to contain fire affected animals requiring monitoring. This represented a dozen taskings during the day.
Several Koalas and a kangaroo joey were triaged, and were sent to either Adelaide Zoo, or a skilled Fauna Rescue carer, depending on the animal's requirements for care and treatment.
We are looking at ways to better inform the public about sound grounds for euthanasia, which extend beyond visible burn injuries, to less obvious indicators, such as severe exertional myopathy.
Blaze Aid surveilled Kersbrook Oval, but have decided to base elsewhere due to the local community's need to have ongoing access to their community facilities.
SAVEM has been invited to be an ongoing participant in the State Government's Community Recovery Committee for the fire affected area.
Update (12th Jan)
With over a dozen people participating, we were able to run the Triage centre and three field teams.
The field teams were tasked as messages were received from land owners and concerned members of the public.
Compared with previous days, the flow through the Triage centre was more evenly spread, with a total of 26 tasks completed.
The majority of admissions to the SAVEM centre now are kangaroos and koalas, with variations such as Bearded Dragons and deer.
In addition to burns injuries, many kangaroos are now suffering from myopathy due to stress and fleeing from the fire. This is a very painful and slowly debilitating disease, from which the animal slowly dies.
Channel Nine filmed a short News segment in the Triage centre, and CFS Media recorded a short interview with the Coordinator.
Update (11th Jan)
Today saw a large increase in the number of roads open for unescorted access allowing field teams to enter the whole fire zone. Despite most roads being fully cleared, active tree felling by arborists was still ongoing on several roads and access to the fireground itself was not classified as safe since the tree surgeons were not working in the forest and bush areas off the roads.
As a result any wildlife activity seen deeper in the scrub was considered unsafe and to be avoided unless carried out by trained SAVEM staff, unfortunately with the easier access many teams of wildlife rescuers and public were calling in from fireground areas.
With 3 vets available and 1 RSPCA vehicle which was retasked early on we had a slightly reduced capacity, however with the strong support team of vet nurse and wildlife carers to assist we were able to have 3 teams in the field most of the day, and still have a stable and organised ops centre team at the Kersbrook Oval triage centre, who managed to keep the database up to date and organise 28 field visits to areas including Humbug scrub, Lower Hermitage , north Kersbrook and Gumeracha and Inglewood.
Many roo mobs were reported with some showing signs of severe foot burns, others with severe pain levels but no visible burns and probably suffering from exertional myopathy and others with serious leg fractures. Koalas were triaged at the hospital with mild foot burns and joeys were sent to Adelaide Zoo and for Fauna Rescue care until well enough to be released. A dog was brought in for assessment, and several birds triaged at the Kersbrook hospital.
Update (10th Jan)
Saturday was set up with two field teams and a full complement of hospital staffto tackle the number of calls received.
With the progressive return of land owners to more of the fireground area, information is now being received from the northern Humbug Scrub area as well as the southern area which has been more active in previous days.
With 2 teams retrieving, the hospital's outgoing triage patients were immediately replaced by waiting incoming patients.
We are very appreciative of Adelaide Zoo taking a significant number of kangaroo joeys today, and to Fauna Rescue who contributed a team for flagging down koalas. After hospital assessment, these animals have been admitted to hospital, or to carers if appropriate.
Para Hills Vet Clinic has had continued involvement by collecting animals from the Kersbrook, and previously, the One Tree Hill Treatment Centres. With the assistance of RSPCA and other organisations, in-field teams have been able to respond to landowner requests to euthanase distressed and badly injured animals on their land.
SAVEM extends sincere appreciation and thanks for the support and effort generously offered by the Kersbrook community at the Recreation Centre where we are located.
Update (9th Jan)
Today was the first day operating from the Triage and Treatment centre at Kersbrook Oval, set up by Nurse Coordinator, Carol.
The local community is being supported from that centre with donations of food and goods, and SAVEM is receiving catering from there as well.
Today was the first day where individual team vehicles could move across an expanded open road area within the fire ground. Team effectiveness was therefore increased, as individual vehicles could target different parts of the fireground.
Teams delivered animals as diverse as juvenile possums & Koalas to the treatment centre. Some animal owners brought pets to the centre for review and medication.
In-field teams found excellent cooperation from both road block police units, and the workforce clearing the road. Some animals were discharged to the care of Para Hills veterinary clinic, awaiting re-assessment in 24 hrs.
Update (8th Jan)
SAVEM & RSPCA moved to Kersbrook Oval as our control centre. We are extending the control centre as a triage hospital beginning Friday 9th Jan.
A single field team (due to fireground safety restrictions) operated with DEWNR escort. We continue to have the support of clinics who have been able to collect animals requiring hospitalisation, including parrots, koalas, possums and kanga joeys. The chain of animal treatment is triage & initial treatment at Control Centre, transfer to local clinic - or as of 9th Jan, Adelaide Zoo or Koala Hospital for long term care. Care for Animals not requiring veterinary hospitalisation and suitable for discharge to Fauna Rescue carers is being arranged by Fauna Rescue.
Update (7th Jan)
A very busy but successful day on the fireground. An experienced crew of 6 were met at Kersbrook oval by the DEWNR escort.
Throughout the day the team attended koalas, kangaroos, possums, joeys, cats and sheep, and spoke to many members of the public and animal owners.
All agencies were ordered from the fire scar area when a storm front passed over the area. Only 1-2 mls of rain made no difference to the fire activity, but by days' end, 95% of the perimeter was declared contained.
Update (6th Jan)
A major order of Veterinary materials and medications was delivered to the SAVEM Control Centre by Provet SA. The Wireless Institute Civil Emergency Network (WICEN) SA has installed a 7 unit hand-held comms array, complete with local tall aluminium tower, into the SAVEM Control Centre as part of WICEN's continuing support for SAVEM.
SAVEM field teams have assessed koalas, kangaroos with and without joeys, horses and sheep. As for previous days, field work included RSPCA & SAVEM participants, and DEWNR escorts. Because of the continuing hot weather, a smaller crew of personnel will be in attendance on Wednesday.
Animal feed (6th Jan)
An emerging issue in the impact of the bushfire is access within the affected areas for the wide variety in animal feed - from hay bales to boxes of dog food. Donations by the public of these materials are being accepted by a wide range of agencies.
Tea Tree Gully Council has agreed to place a part of its Depot site available for animal feed to be delivered for storage.
The Depot is accessible between 7am and 4pm, at 118 Tolley Road, St. Agnes. Please report to the Depot front desk.