Parndana postmaster Sandy Davis offers advice during Emergency Preparedness Week

Parndana Post Office postmaster Sandy Davis (centre) had been doing regular Zoom meetings with her Australia Post colleagues during the latest
Parndana Post Office postmaster Sandy Davis (centre) had been doing regular Zoom meetings with her Australia Post colleagues during the latest "emergency", this time COVID-19.

Parndana postmaster Sandy Davis has a few words of advice about how to be prepared during an emergency.

And her experiences in the latest bushfire disaster on Kangaroo Island hunkered down in Davo's Deli certainly qualify her in the field of disaster preparedness.

From Monday, August 31 to Monday, September 7, Australian Red Cross runs its annual Emergency Preparedness Week urging all Australians young and old to get ready and be prepared.

You can find out how to prepare yourself and those you love for whatever may come your way: redcross.org.au/prepare

Australia Post has partnered with the Red Cross on disaster response and encouraged Sandy to speak up about up her experiences with emergency and fire disaster.

Over the weeks the bushfire crisis raged on KI, Sandy was not only running the post office but also helping feed all the emergency services, including local farm fire fighting units.

Sandy posted on Facebook the boys making rolls at Davo's Deli at 9.04am, January 6 "after two evacuations. After the first big fire storm that took out the western end."

Sandy posted on Facebook the boys making rolls at Davo's Deli at 9.04am, January 6 "after two evacuations. After the first big fire storm that took out the western end."

Davo's Deli and the Parndana Hotel were contracted to provide catering and so Sandy together with publican Annemarie Larcombe set up a roster system.

And this goes to the heart of her advice - work what you can do in a disaster to be productive, know your role and work together.

"Catering was our role and I was completely focussed on that inside the deli and couldn't even think about anything else," Sandy said.

Other people were coming in worried about what they could or worried they had not done enough.

Her advice then and now was to work out what you role is within your household, neighbourhood or workforce and focus on that, whether that be packing the car or preparing the property for fire.

She also said consulting with other within your home or work unit was vital to make sure you were sharing the load properly.

"Discuss you role with the household and once you know what you can do, you can be awesome at it," she said.

Sandy recalls driving out Parndana at about 6.15pm on January 3 as the firestorm raged west of the town, turning the skies as dark as night that afternoon and evening.

The deli team was back the next morning making rolls.

She calculated the deli made between 8000 and 9000 rolls during the month of the fires.

Parndana was evacuated again on the evening of January 9 as the fire wrapped around the town, forcing even the emergency operations centre to flee down the hill to Kingscote.

Sandy had a brief respite for a few days until the power came back on and operations resumed at the deli and post office.

Davo's Deli has held the post office licence in Parndana since January 2, 2007, just before the series of fires that tore through the Island that year.

Australia Post meanwhile is partnering with Red Cross as National Community Partner and Official Postal and Logistics Provider, which will help to deploy response services and support as soon as disaster hits.

Over the next three years, Australia Post will champion disaster response, recovery and preparedness to continue supporting communities through these emergencies.

With over 4,300 post offices and a national workforce of over 75,000 people, Australia Post has a strong connection to communities throughout the country.

Emergency Preparedness Week

Seven in 10 Aussies say strong community bonds sustain them through COVID-19, but more action needed to prepare for future lockdowns and looming disasters.

That's one of the key findings of the latest annual nationwide survey by Red Cross on the state of Australia's readiness for emergencies, as the charity urges people to get ready for more bushfires, floods as well as COVID-19 outbreaks and lockdowns.

"Our 2020 survey reveals close to seven in 10 (65 per cent) credit strong connections with friends and family as the most important factor in helping them manage during what has been a year of extremes with the summer fires and now the pandemic," Red Cross National Resilience Adviser John Richardson said.

"In a true sign of community spirit, Australians will give the shirt off their own back for one another, with strong levels of community trust, with around six in 10 (58 per cent) believing the community will come together to help in a crisis."

The survey also showed around four in five (77 per cent) Australians believe we need to prepare better for pandemics, but over half (52 per cent) don't know how.

"Living through COVID-19 more than half of us (56 per cent) are thinking of the risks for future outbreaks but fewer are inclined to actively prepare. Alarmingly around one in five (20 per cent) are taking no action saying it's not even realistic to prepare," Mr. Richardson said.

"Red Cross wants to assure people that preparing for another virus outbreak and indeed any other weather-related or manmade crisis later this year is possible. It's something well within our control, and it will help us recover better in the long term.

"The great majority are aware of increasing weather-related crises, but only around two in five (35 per cent) are taking active steps to prepare for the next fire season.

"Even in communities where people are highly confident their town is prepared for future emergencies, just under half (40 per cent) still don't believe their community is ready for bushfires, heatwaves and floods.

"We are making excellent progress in awareness, with most of us considering possible risks, but we will need to take more action, as just one in five (21 per cent) of us have identified a safe place to meet or identified someone who could help in a crisis for instance.

"We know from our long experience of responding to emergencies that taking simple actions like being informed, having a reliable person you can call on for assistance and getting organised by making a plan makes people more resilient in the face of increasing hazards in our region.

"In Emergency Preparedness Week, Red Cross is encouraging people to take action. We want to help every Australian get prepared, both physically and emotionally, for the emergencies they may face."

Getting behind the campaign, Australia Post executive general manager community and consumer, Nicole Sheffield said supporting Emergency Preparedness Week was part of Australia Post's ongoing commitment to Red Cross since it signed on as a National Community Partner in June.

"Australia Post has a connection with every Australian and we've seen first-hand how strong communities can be when they're informed.

"When disaster strikes, communities turn to their local post office for information and assistance, so we know how important this message is and we're pleased to be using our network to make sure it reaches areas that are most at risk.

"We're delighted to be officially partnering with Red Cross, as we've informally worked with them for many years and we know the great work they do in getting help to those who need it."

From Monday, August 31 to Monday, September 7, Australian Red Cross runs its annual Emergency Preparedness Week urging all Australians young and old to get ready and be prepared.

You can't stop emergencies from happening, but you can reduce how much they affect you.

Take action now to prepare yourself and those you love for whatever may come your way: redcross.org.au/prepare

Red Cross research conducted the survey with a random representative national online sample of 1000 Australians over the age of 18 in August 2020

Four simple steps can make you better prepared for any emergency:

  • GET IN THE KNOW: about your risks, where to get information, and how to manage stress
  • GET CONNECTED: by identifying emergency contacts, meeting places, and people who can help
  • GET ORGANISED: with important documents, medical information, insurance and pet plans
  • GET PACKING: with a list to help you survive and personal items that are important to you For everything you need, visit redcross.org.au/prepare

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