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San staffers volunteer during fire crisis

San staffers and their families have been amongst the great humanitarians volunteering to assist during the recent fire crisis.

San Radiology's Medical Secretary Debbie Staggs is amongst them and reports that she and her husband are both members of the Berowra Rural Fire Service.

"I joined nearly 10 years ago when two of my daughters were in Junior RFS brigade and I had free time so I decided to give it a go.

This fire season I have attended Gospers fire (Wollemi), Three Mile fire (Central Mangrove), Crumps Compex fire (Wollombi) and Currowan Fire (Nowra).

I have a Medium Rigid truck licence, so I drive the Cat 1 which is the big fire truck, and the Cat 7 which is our smaller truck.

We are involved in putting out fires, backburns, hazard reduction and property protection. Our brigade also gets call outs to the M1 for accidents."

Debbie's husband has been a volunteer for about 18 months and during this recent fire season has been on 25 strike teams including a 5 day deployment to Nowra during which crews saved a man's life with CPR.

"I really appreciate the San giving me the opportunity to help fight the fires" Debbie said.

"The camaraderie with the RFS is amazing. I have made life-long friends."


San Radiology's Clinical Nurse Specialist Neil Mendonsa is another equally inspiring example using his specialist skills as a volunteer with St John's Ambulance since he left school over 7 years ago.

Neil reports he was most recently flown into Armidale and based at a camp at Yarrowitch in northern NSW.

"It's the first deployment I've been involved with.

I was partnered with another nurse from QLD.

We did 24/7 call/response for the firefighters for 7 days. We also ran a general health type clinic during shift change hours and treated various injuries and ailments mostly minor, including some minor burns, smoke inhalation and smoke in eyes, and other respiratory conditions.

The nearest backup Ambulance crew was at the hospital around an hour away so we were mostly focused on keeping patients onsite and thankfully didn't have anyone that needed transport.

We had access to RFDS and helicopter retrieval teams if necessary and it was great to see the collaborative effort between organisations including St John Ambulance, NSW Ambulance, NSW RFS, CFA, National Parks and Wildlife Service and the SES.

As I was deployed to a forward operating base type area we didn't see civilians but we acted as a store point for a lot of donations of food and other items that went out to those affected by the fires.

It was surprising to see just how dry the area was and it was easy to see how fires could start and spread rapidly."


Adventist HealthCare's thoughts are with those affected by the fires. It thanks all the volunteers who have generously given their time and shared their skills showcasing the Hospital mission of Christianity in Action and as a result will match to the value of $10,000 any AHCL employees donations to the Red Cross Fire Relief Fund.

As of 8.30 today AHCL staff have donated $5859 towards the Red Cross bush fire appeal. With the AHCL contribution being a total of $11,718.00



Debbie Staggs with one of the trucks she drives as a volunteer with Berowra Rural Fire Service.


Debbie's great humanitarian spirit also inspired her to climb Sydney Tower twice in Fire and Rescue clothing fundraising for Motor Neurone Disease.


Debbie with RFS colleagues.


Neil during his recent deployment with St John's Ambulance.



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