Joanne Thomson

Senior Operational Capability Officer

I’m part of a team which responds to disasters and emergencies, assisting the most vulnerable members of the community.

Joanne Thomson, Senior Operational Capability Officer, State Emergency Service (SES) in Far North Queensland, ensures SES volunteers are prepared to respond to local, state and national disasters and emergencies.

“I train and manage 4 staff and 50 volunteer trainers who deliver training to SES volunteers across our region, from Cardwell to Croydon to the Torres Strait Islands,” says Joanne.

“These volunteers are the ones who will be there to search for you if you get lost, to provide temporary repairs to your roof, stop water flooding your house in a storm or a cyclone, or to rescue you from a traffic accident in outback Queensland.

“Part of my role is to do what I can to ensure volunteers have access to emerging technology that helps make their role easier and safer.

“One exciting way we are doing this is by trialling drones in different SES roles. We are trialling many different uses, including taking photos of a damaged roof before sending the team up. In doing this, we’re giving them better information for their planning and risk assessment.

“We are also testing the drones in search and rescue operations.

“During disasters, I often manage the logistics for all SES volunteers. For example, depending on where a cyclone crosses, I can be organising equipment for deployments to other regions.

“This is exactly what I did for Tropical Cyclone Debbie. I organised fully equipped SES volunteers to head from Cairns to affected areas to help local SES with the response.

“I joined the Queensland public sector 15 years ago, but I have been an SES volunteer for more than 24 years. I was a volunteer trainer before I was lucky enough to turn that into a career with the sector.

“If I could describe in 10 words or less my experience working for the sector: it is challenging, rewarding and full of variety.”

Joanne is here for Queensland to make a difference and to be challenged.

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