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Members out in the field: Tales from the EAD Deployment Front

NBRT Planning Mentor, Lloyd Kingham’s recap on his experience from the Varroa Mite Response

An all-hazards approach to Incident Management Teams (IMT) is crucial when collaborating with emergency services for biosecurity responses. Each morning, up to five Rural Fire Service Strike teams, consisting of two personnel and vehicles, received briefings on surveillance and destruction/disposal targets, complete with maps in the daily tasking format of the Rural Fire Service (RFS).

Reporting was streamlined through iPads into the NSW DPI MAX case management system. COVID protocols were integrated as part of standard safety measures, incorporating risk assessments, a hierarchy of controls, daily testing and isolation of infected personnel, vaccination, mandatory face masks, and administrative controls such as tracking negative test results through lapel stickers.

The response also navigated challenges posed by the Hunter River flood event, treating it as a safety issue that influenced field operations. Despite data-sharing difficulties between combat organizations, mapping data, particularly RFS maps, was successfully disseminated daily, aiding operational tasking and resource projections for biosecurity priorities. This comprehensive approach included mapping progress in targeted surveillance, determining disposal pathways, initiating euthanasia, and establishing priorities for planning and retaining hiveware post-euthanasia.

The total number of Varroa MAX cases stands at 15,537, featuring various status and surveillance/treatment qualifiers, along with tabs tracking surveillance, euthanasia, and disposal events. The architecture for these MAX tabs and related fields was swiftly designed in a single day in late June 2022.

Despite robust discipline reinforcement and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on case creation, data management, and the use of status and qualifiers, an impressive 2,237 duplicate cases have been successfully removed to date. This equates to averting 31 duplicate case creations per week. The importance of having a dedicated position overseeing data quality becomes evident, as without it, issuing accurate situational reports, maintaining precise maps, and generating reliable projections become challenging.

In managing the Varroa response with a team of over 260 personnel and only 2-3 GIS specialists and data specialists, the development of PowerBI dashboards in NSW has proven instrumental. These dashboards empower response personnel and the Chief Plant Protection Officer’s office to independently run queries and obtain answers from the response data. Recognizing the limitations of solely relying on mapping and GIS specialists, this approach ensures that information demands from IMT, state, and national decision-makers are effectively met.