Completion of SAVEM’s River Murray Response 2022-2023
At the end of January 2023 SAVEM stood down from its Activation to the River Murray Flood Response. Our collaborative partner in this response – fellow Participating Organisation in the State Emergency Management Plan, the Department of Environment and Water (DEW), who requested our assistance and with whom we’d been closely working since early November 2022, advised PIRSA that SAVEM’s role was complete.
This was SAVEM’s first large-scale flood incident, and presented a very different set of challenges from a bushfire response – the hazard type with which we are most experienced and familiar. Whatever the hazard, following stand down, effective debriefing processes are imperative to understand and identify what worked well, capture what could be done differently or improved in this era of escalating emergency events and to allow people to tell their stories and be heard in a safe environment. Three formal debrief sessions involving SAVEM have been conducted during February and March, with valuable lessons identified and documented.
An often overlooked aspect of demobilisation involves restoring resources ready for new deployments to come, and having a forward vision to anticipate what upscaling may be required to meet the demands of future events at magnitudes not yet encountered. This of course includes SAVEM’s peacetime training program – please refer to the 2023 Training Calendar on the website – and inducting new participants to upskill in functional areas in need of additional officers. With this in mind, some volunteers will be invitated to join the Logistics team – an area where we have traditionally struggled to recruit sufficient support. Logistics underpins everything we do, and is critical to support the Operations function.
According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the La Niña system of the last three summers has ended, and atmospheric indicators have returned to ENSO-neutral. The criteria for El Niño WATCH have now been met, indicating around a 50% chance that an El Niño may develop later in 2023. El Niño WATCH is not a guarantee that El Niño will occur, but it is an indication that some of the typical precursors are currently observed. SAVEM needs to be very well prepared for fire season 2023/2024 and beyond. See http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/outlook/
The risk of fire during Autumn 2023 remains. While there is some relief with shorter days and higher humidity, it’s important to remember we have been activated to a fire response as late as mid-May in the past. The training team is looking forward to working with you at training during 2023.