Nambucca Valley Red Cross Emergency Service team

Back Row Left to Right  Carol Templeton, Lew Loudon, Kathy Redman

Front Row Left to Right  Lee Gilliland and Lesley Smith absent Julie Weaver
Back Row Left to Right Carol Templeton, Lew Loudon, Kathy Redman Front Row Left to Right Lee Gilliland and Lesley Smith absent Julie Weaver

They are the volunteers we don't always hear about - those who are in the Red Cross Emergency Service teams … of which we have about a dozen in the Nambucca Valley.

And six of these good people headed to Townsville recently and spent four days offering help, support and a kind shoulder or ear to the traumatised residents of that ravaged city.

Carol Templeton was one of them and this is her story:

"It was so surprising approaching Townsville from the air - it looked so clean, which we weren't expecting," Carol said.

"The army and the council had thoroughly cleaned the streets but once you were at ground level it was a different story.

"House loads of furniture were on the roadsides everywhere - people had lost absolutely everything."

The role of the Nambucca Valley team involved a number of tasks - the first was to offer Psychological First Aid.

"This is an outreach role, where we go out with the community recovery officers (from the Qld Government) and knock on doors to make sure people are OK.

"We listen to their stories and can advise them about where to get the help they need.

"We also work in the recovery centres, which is where people go to register for help. We are there to greet people as they arrive and once they are registered we find a place to sit - and we just stay there with them, some are quiet, some want to talk, all were quite traumatised."

She said for those needing immediate mental health support, LifeLine is also there in the centre.

Red Cross Trauma Teddies

Red Cross Trauma Teddies

"The stories are so many and so varied - there was one Congolese man who hadn't eaten for four days, so we got him some food and put him in touch with the Salvation Army.

"Bascially we are there as someone they can unload their worries to - a stranger to take a little of the burden."

Carol said there was also information they handed out - brochures on how to clean up after a flood, how to cope with the aftermath - and of course the Red Cross Trauma Teddies to share.

"There were a lot of shocked children - they had lost all their toys, the teddies are something to cling on to."

After four days she said the team returned home, exhausted, but feeling satisfied with the support they were able to give.

"The people up there were amazing, really inspiring - nearly everyone kept saying, "Oh there are so many others worse off than us … we'll be OK" … such thoughtfulness."

Red Cross offers training programs throughout the year for those interested in getting involved. Contact Mary Ball on 0418 250 564 for more information.

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