SARRAH would like to extend our thoughts to everyone affected by the bushfires and to the emergency services and volunteers who have done an amazing job.
Links for Health Professionals Supporting Health Care in Bushfire Affected Communities
The Federal Government has put in place emergency protocols to expedite the process of getting GPs and allied health professionals to bushfire-affected communities where they are needed most.
The Department of Health and Department of Human Services will prioritise all applications from health professionals who want to work in bushfire-affected communities. Allied health professionals can work at a new practice for up to two weeks using their existing Medicare provider number.
Health professionals wishing to offer support to bushfire affected areas should contact their relevant Rural Workforce Agency (RWA):
- RWA Victoria: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 03 9349 7800
- NSW Rural Doctors Network website or call 02 4924 8001
- Rural Doctors Workforce Agency SA: email@example.com or call 08 8234 8277
People wishing to provide supplies and assistance are advised to direct their enquiries to the relevant state government. Financial donations are preferred at this point, as services have been overwhelmed with donated clothing and household goods. Donations can be directed to the relevant organisation in their state:
- The Victorian Bushfire Appeal;
- The NSW Fire Service; or
- The State Emergency Relief Fund (SA)
Emerging Minds: Community Trauma Toolkit
This toolkit contains resources to help and support adults and children before, during, and after a disaster or traumatic event. It will help you understand some of the impacts of disaster and how you can help lessen these impacts.
The Australian Red Cross is supporting communities affected by the fires, with specialist emergency volunteers providing psychological first aid, working at evacuation centres and helping people to get in touch with their loved ones. For those who are able and wishing to donate, go to the Red Cross disaster relief and recovery appeal at https://www.redcross.org.au/.
Some information that you may find helpful is below.
Emergency Services Agency
During these periods of smoke, people are advised to minimise their levels of prolonged or heavy physical activity outdoors. When there is heavy smoke in the area it is best to avoid all physical activity outdoors.
People who are sensitive to smoke, especially those with pre-existing heart and lung conditions, should take extra care by staying indoors where possible and taking medication as prescribed by their doctor.
While exposure to smoke can be unpleasant, for healthy people taking measures to limit their exposure, it is unlikely they will be at risk of serious health harms from the current smoke event.
Keep up to date with the latest health advice through your state health website
The best way to avoid exposure to the smoke is by staying indoors (with windows and doors closed) where possible, and not using evaporative air conditioners which draw air into the house from outside.
Ordinary paper masks are not effective at filtering smoke, however do not cause any harm if people choose to wear them and they feel they get some benefit.
Evidence shows P2 and N95 masks do filter some smoke and are most commonly used in occupational settings where exposure to airborne particles occur on a regular basis. However they cannot completely eliminate exposure to smoke, and as they can be difficult to fit and use appropriately, they are not recommended for use in the general community as an alternative to avoiding outdoor exposure.
While expert advice remains that the best way to avoid exposure to the smoke is by staying indoors (with windows and doors closed), many people may prefer to use P2 masks.
Information on P2 and N95 masks, and how to fit them properly is available from ACT Health at: https://www.health.act.gov.au/public-health-alert/...
Tips for dealing with indoor smoke
Here’s some tips to help keep your home as smoke-free as possible:
• Keep all windows and doors closed.
• Stay in air-conditioned premises and switch the air conditioner to ‘recycle’ or ‘recirculate’ to reduce the amount of smoke entering the building.
• Only use an evaporative cooler if the system is filtered. Note: some domestic evaporative coolers are less likely to filter fine particles such as smoke and may introduce smoke inside. If you any questions about your evaporative cooler, please speak to the manufacturer or place of purchase as models may vary.
• Determine where the gaps are where smoke may be able to enter. Look for obvious signs of draughts-lights coming in under and around doors and windows and feel for draughts.
• Keep your pets indoors with clean water and food. Keep pets bedding inside if possible.
• Seal internal cracks and gaps and consider sealing up vent covers.
• Air out your house when the smoke clears.
Below is a link to infomation from the Australian Psychological Society which may also assist.