The beginning of something great

Two months ago, a longtime Army friend called me with what he described as an “exciting opportunity”. Team Rubicon Australia — a not-for-profit Disaster Response organisation led by veterans and first responders — was beginning to establish an international and domestic capability here in Australia.

I was told that Team Rubicon was developing and building an Australian entity known as ‘TRA’. It was only just getting underway but would link into global opportunities and deployments around the world. I can tell you that as the owner of a Safety and Emergency Management company who is currently studying a Masters of Disaster and Emergency Response, I was excited to say the least.

I registered with TRA through their FaceBook page but unfortunately missed out on the recent deployment to Fort McMurray in Canada due to work commitments — which somewhat bummed me out. Then a call came from TRA saying; “We’re holding a weekend for Team Rubicon Australia members to attend in Sydney. We need to learn, test, ‘break’ and then develop some pretty cool technology, are you interested?” We all know what bears do in the woods… And we all know that ex infantry guys like me are great at ‘break testing’ things.

Our weekend in Sydney was anticipated with some trepidation, including unanswered questions such as; What is the technology? What is expected of us? How does TRA work exactly? What was my job and most importantly how am I going to contribute? But it very quickly all made complete sense after I bumped into the type of ‘familiar face’ that you don’t bump into for years, but just click with like it was first parade on a Monday morning. We received a short brief and got underway.

TRA told us the purpose of the weekend was to get a team of hand-picked industry professionals in a room for two days (which included veterans, doctors and paramedics) to offer technical ‘left of field’ testing on a tele-medicine technology. This information collecting and sharing technology is to be used in disaster response to enhance patient outcomes, share treatment plans and link in medical specialists from around the world, all in real time!

The TRA team review DocTalk technology and capabilities.

After learning how to operate the system (and asking literally hundreds of questions) we were broken into groups of 3–4 and we set off to test our new pelican case full of field equipment with an ‘operational’ scenario.

We were all happy to meet our friends from the DaVincian who have been developing the technology. Their work and effort is something that I can’t even begin to explain. Personally I don’t know how they kept their patience with a bunch of super keen and interested Aussies bombarding them with question after question, and improve after improve. It all worked in the end and I’m sure they valued their experience and have also made some new mates down under.

We did achieve our mission to help advance this new technology for operational purpose by identifying some improves, fixes and sustains that we all felt proud to have contributed.

TRA members assessing a patient and uploading data to be sent to a Mobile Operating Base (MOB).

The exciting thing about our time together for me was re-connecting to people who are truly motivating and caring in way that I find hard to express. Seeing our skills improve and also assisting our American brothers and sisters at TR USA who are deployed with this technology, is also a huge pat on the back to the many successes of the weekend.

Working in field like conditions enabled the data up-links to be tested and systems to be improved.

To me, Team Rubicon is a global effort. Something to make the world a better place. It’s also a place for skilled, driven and switched on people to come together and actually do something when others need help. For me, and I’m sure my like-minded mates, it’s an opportunity to get back to the feeling of being a part of something bigger than yourself, to step out of the norm and to go back to organised chaos. For me, my mates and those who don’t know yet that they will become a part of something truly great, I think this organisation is fairly bang on to say the least!

To those of you who may be interested I would suggest asking yourself three questions:

  1. Do I want to make a positive difference to this world?
  2. Can I offer something to the team to make it better than when I got there? (time, advice, hard work, hugs, you name it)
  3. Lastly, am I prepared for the responsibility, hard work and situations I may encounter?

Beyond a doubt TRA is growing and shaping up to be very specialised, capable and deployable. The future is looking bright and we are just getting started.

Watch this space! — Jesse McNeilly

The TRA Australia Team, founding something great!