Award for protecting our protectors

Emergency service personnel are the first to respond to any number of traumatic events, but who helps them when they are in need?

That duty falls to support staff like Gina Mammone, who has led teams of counsellors all over the country as the manager of critical incident and counselling services with the NSW SES.

Mrs Mammone was awarded an Emergency Services Medal as a part of Australia Day celebrations,honouring her tireless work at the SES for almost 24 years.

In recent years she has taken teams of counsellors interstate to help support SES volunteers and emergency service crews during the Black Saturday bushfires, Cyclone Yasi and, more recently, the Brisbane floods.

Yesterday, she said the award acknowledged the importance of helping emergency service personnel deal with trauma.

"[During the Black Saturday bushfires] there were SES volunteers and other emergency services who were out in the field actually fighting fires and coming across people who were deceased," she said.

"Our job was to look after the personnel who had been exposed to those sorts of things - just manage their general wellbeing, fatigue and make sure that they're OK.

"Because sometimes, even though our emergency service personnel are trained really well for what they do, there are just some things that push their buttons so we're there to support them at those times."

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