Dr John Moloney has been recognised for his outstanding contribution during the Black Saturday bushfire emergency with a National Emergency Medal. After eight years, it was a belated but richly deserved recognition.
Black Saturday was the worst bushfire in Australian history. 173 lives were lost, over 1,800 homes were destroyed and entire townships were destroyed.
On that fateful day, Dr John Moloney was the acting Field Emergency Medical Officer (FEMO), a state-wide program hosted at St Vincent’s. John, whose day job is Head of Trauma Anaesthesia at The Alfred Hospital, was called to the ominously named ‘casualty collecting post’ at the station shared by the CFA and Ambulance Victoria at Diamond Creek.
His role on that awful day was to manage the front line medical response.
‘People were being brought down from the hills, suffering major burns, minor burns, smoke inhalation and eye problems,’ John says. ‘One was dead on arrival. They were coming in police cars, by ambulance and by private cars.’
John’s role wasn’t just to assess and treat people onsite, but to organise how and where they would be treated. He coordinated medical and clinical advice to ambulance services and patients, liaised with the Health Commander to work out which hospital to send patients, and managed health and medical volunteers.
John was one of six FEMO officers called on that day. But his dedication didn’t just stop after Black Saturday. In the following weeks, John tirelessly continued to provide basic health care to the local communities affected by the fires.
Ambulance Victoria nominated John for a National Emergency Medal to ensure his outstanding contribution did not go unnoticed. The National Emergency Medal is awarded by the Governor General to recognise people who provide sustained service during nationally significant emergencies.
John was recognised for his sustained contribution in selflessly protecting the lives and property of others in direct response to this tragic national emergency.