GAF Story

Jessica Britton

Australian Catholic University
Bachelor of Education (Primary)

Jessica Britton, ACU scholar, smiling in SES vehicle.

ACU scholar Jessica Britton is not only studying for a Bachelor of Education; in her free time, she volunteers with the State Emergency Services (SES). Read along to learn about her volunteering, assisting those impacted by the NSW floods for a week.  


The first day I was thrown into the deep end working in the communications room. I had a crash course on using the radios and logging jobs, then was left in charge (monitored) for the day. It was challenging, but I felt accomplished if a little overwhelmed by the end of the day.  


I was starting to get the hang of how things work upstairs in the communications room until we were thrown a curveball in the form of an evacuation order. I had phone calls coming in from all angles on top of the radios and logging jobs. In the afternoon, I took a break from the communications room to deliver medical supplies, only to have hundreds of spiders latch to my legs trying to get to high ground. It was well worth it to provide someone with the medical attention they needed. 


I started the morning learning from the flood specialist. He taught me how he tracks the rainfall and flood levels, trying to identify patterns which I found very interesting. Then once again, back in the communications room for the rest of the day. 


Woohoo, I got to go out on a boat to have a look around and to pick dad up on the other side of the river. Upon returning to headquarters, I helped set up a ‘boat ramp’ station at Wilberforce. After this, I took charge of radio communication between the boat ramp and headquarters, logging all the job numbers of people and packages coming and going from the boats. During this time, boatloads of Coles products were transported, locals and RFS helped move the products into the trucks on this side of the river.️ 


I started my shift at the boat ramp. However, because the water levels dropped, becoming unsafe for boats to access, we decided to move location. During the afternoon, I met many families separated by flooding being reunited for the first time. It was a remarkable thing to experience, so much emotion. 


What a morning! I successfully reversed not one, not two, but three boat trailers down a narrow lane and through a narrow gate. During the day, I was back at the boat ramp on the radio where I gained my call sign ‘Sheila 1’. In the afternoon, I was back in a boat to deliver generator parts to isolated people. I finished the day with the ferry service and experienced the best sunset I have ever seen.


Ahhh mud, mud and more mud. The boat ramp turned into a slip and slide. We continued our ferry service in the morning. Then had to drop a boat off on the other side of the river. We crossed the Windsor bridge for the first time since the flooding started. There were press and cameras back at headquarters as the Governor-General, his wife, Commissioner of the SES, and many others visited. I had a chat with them and a few photos, time to clean my muddy boots off for the day.