Our greatest need is to be prepared for emergencies, and for that we need your help.
Mark Slater, AWL NSW CEO, shares his experience of being on the frontline during the NSW bushfire crisis.
“On New Year’s Eve in 2019, I received a phone call from the Head of Emergency Response, Department of Primary Industries (DPI). He asked if we could go to Bega as first responders to the bushfire crisis. I said, “yes, absolutely, we’ll deploy ASAP!”. I put the phone down, evacuated my own family… and put together a team within ten minutes. We left at 4am on New Year’s Day via the Monaro Highway.
It is because of the generous support of donors like you that makes it possible for us to deploy so rapidly. When duty calls, we assist families and their animals with food, water, shelter, and emergency supplies.
Upon reaching Bega, we helped people who had been evacuated with their animals. There were hundreds of people and animals at the showground. During our eight days there the vet clinic was evacuated three times to the local sale yards and our Mobile Vet Truck. Resources were scarce and diesel was as precious as water… and we had none. We were lucky enough to receive help from generous local suppliers who provided fuel and food for our teams.
We value local support and partnerships. Those are vital in saving lives at the frontline. I am also amazed at the generosity of Australians particularly in the face of adversity. To see a nation united and supporting fellow Australians was so heart-warming and motivating.
On 4 January we were asked to take over the Emergency Operations Centre in Bega. It was 2:15pm and we got out to supply water… I was shocked at how dark it was with thick smoke all around and the sky glowing red… ash and smoke bearing down on us. The local police sergeant warned Bega could be overrun. The reality of the situation dawned upon us as we were asked to conduct our own safety and evacuation plan. I felt helpless and hopeless. High points amidst the hopelessness was the rescue of a dog that was tied up in a burning residential home, and carting water to a dairy farmer whose animals were under threat. Then we had the harrowing work of euthanizing animals that were severely burnt.
The work that we do, our care and compassion for people and animals is possible because of generous donors that keep our mission of providing care and compassion for animals alive. Please consider donating today! Your gift will help ensure we are well equipped for times of crisis.
CEO, AWL NSW
P.S. Our teams worked tirelessly in Taree, Bega, Moruya and Cooma regions last summer. We have all been through a tough year, from drought to bushfires and the pandemic. Our dedication to protecting our animals and supporting their families has never diminished. I hope you can support AWL NSW and increase our capability of saving lives.”.