ELA One Day - United Nations The Next!

Friday, 25 May, 2018

Michael Jordan

At ELA we pride ourselves on having experts on our team who have unique technical expertise. Part-time ELA Bushfire Consultant Michael Jordan is no exception to this. With a background in Construction Management, Michael also works as a full-time firefighter with FRNSW. On top of this, Michael has kicked a dream goal by becoming a part of the United Nations Australian Urban Search and Rescue Team.

We caught up with Michael to find out what this important position means to him.

How did you end up in the United Nations Australian Urban Search and Rescue Team?

I am an accredited Rescue Operator with FRNSW. This is a specialist position but I still work at a fire station. I respond not just to fires but also predominantly attend rescue calls such as road crash rescues. Every few years a team of experienced rescue operators from FRNSW and Ambulance Specialised Operations is chosen for further training. I was fortunate enough to be chosen for a 4-week course focusing on structural collapse, technical rope rescue, urban search and rescue. The course is extremely intense and at the completion, there is a 48-hour exercise for final assessment.

What was it like to complete the final 48-hour exercise?

It was very intense. The training centre simulates a collapsed building which takes months to prepare. You undergo extreme physical and mental fatigue working non-stop over the 48-hour period. We can spend hours trying to find and access a patient under a collapsed building.

Last year I was a part of the international reclassification team that is assessed by other international teams and the UN. This was another 48-hour exercise.

What does being in the United Nations Australian Urban Search and Rescue Team mean for you? Professionally but also on a practical day-to-day level?

It is my biggest achievement and I am extremely proud to be part of a very skilled team that represents Australia overseas. It was my dream goal to be chosen to be part of this team and I never thought I would have a chance. Day to day, I am being utilised within FRNSW as a USAR Rescue Technician and NSW disaster response team. If there is a significant structural collapse or technical rescue, I will respond on my fire truck.

On a practical level, to be an active member of the team, I have a list of vaccinations that are required to be up to date, a current passport, I need to live within 2 hours of Sydney airport, and have my UN uniform ready to go at any moment. DFAT requires the team to be airborne within 6 hours of activation for a 10-day deployment anywhere in the world. We are completely self-sufficient and do not require any resources such as water, accommodation, or tools as we have a cache that is ready to be loaded on military aircraft.  

Michael Jordan 2

How does your experience with the UN effect your work with ELA?

Working and training alongside international search and rescue teams provides an increased knowledge base, not only on an international emergency management level, but also on a domestic emergency planning strategic level. I’m using my experience within this field to assist emergency management planning within the bushfire sector. 

What is the most rewarding aspect of being part of the United Nations Australian Urban Search and Rescue Team?

Bringing relief to vulnerable communities affected by disaster. Often we are arriving in a country that is experiencing once in a lifetime hardship and the local resources are overrun. We are representing Australia in disaster assistance - we are there to assist, rescue and rebuild the affected community. It’s incredibly rewarding.

Why did you choose to work for ELA?

I was approached by ELA last year and the company came highly recommended from a current employee. At ELA I get to work within a not only with the bushfire team but alongside a variety of disciplines and roles. I feel very privileged to work and learn from a very experienced team. 

What are your goals for the future?

I hope to continue to learn off the experienced bushfire team at ELA and gain BPAD accreditation working on a variety of different projects.