Black Saturday is a day most Victorians will never forget.
On the 10-year anniversary, we will be thinking of the individuals, families and communities who were forever changed by Black Saturday.
For our statewide trauma and burns teams who cared for the most severely injured survivors, it was a time when everyone pulled together.
The catastrophic bushfire event, and the strength and courage of patients and their families, played a part in shaping what the Victorian Adult Burns Service at The Alfred is today.
Victorian Burns Program Coordinator, Yvonne Singer, recalls working in The Alfred’s Emergency and Trauma Centre on that night, 10 years ago.
“We received 18 patients from the fires in the first 72 hours. Every department stepped up to the plate, from cleaning and ward support to the emergency department, operating theatres, ICU and the Allied Health team,” she said. “Everyone worked together seamlessly."
Occupational Therapist, Jacqui Salway, recalls the days following the event were overwhelming. The weeks following were physically and emotionally exhausting for staff, but the support from colleagues, the community and throughout the entire country was incredible.
Burns Development Nurse, Lou Higgins, remembers the challenge of balancing time spent with patients who were searching for loved ones, while providing specialised burn care.
“The burns team, hospital and community support was extraordinary,” Lou said.
“It was such a frantic time,” ICU Clinical Educator, Nat Adams said. “I found myself extremely emotional when a Queensland hospital sent us muffins to eat because they knew we would be struggling to have tea breaks,” Nat said.
Burns Nurse Practitioner, Hana Menezes, said while the experience was challenging and life-changing, it extended our ability to care.
“I was so proud of how we all worked together,” Hana said.
“The experience changed clinical practice, our work improved further and new roles were created as a result."