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Coordinating operation evacuation

Care Services Community Stories

In January 2020, bushfires ravaged the NSW South Coast. With the largest aged care presence in the region, IRT faced a catastrophic bushfire threat across seven sites. In this series of stories, we celebrate the courage, resilience and leadership of our employees, who kept our centres operating and our residents safe.

19 February 2020
IRT Home Care Head of Operations Helen Spence. (Credit: Andy Zakeli)

IRT Home Care Head of Operations Helen Spence has lived in Narooma for 20 years. When the unprecedented bushfire season struck, she worked tirelessly providing support to home care staff and customers who had been evacuated or had lost their homes in fire-impacted towns in Queensland and NSW. On Friday January 3 when bushfire threatened her own region, she dropped everything to co-ordinate the evacuation of IRT Dalmeny care centre.

Helen Spence:  “I had managed the IRT Dalmeny centre for 15 years previously so I still knew many of the staff and I knew what I needed to do. We started evacuating at 1pm and we had it all done by 6pm. The staff were fantastic, they did everything they were asked to do. The maintenance team loaded the mattresses and transported them to Estia Health Dalmeny for our care residents and to the local club for our retirement village residents. My husband drove the bus on Sunday to pick up the RV residents from the club and return them home. Living in a rural community surrounded by bush you become very conscious of the weather. We were fortunate that the north westerly didn’t eventuate.”  

Margie Brown and Kimberly Howard. (Credit: Andy Zakeli)

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