Senior Constable Loryn Reynolds has been with ACT Policing for nearly 15 years where she has worked in a number of areas, most recently as a peer support officer on the ACT Police Welfare Team.
In Joel Doble’s capacity as a volunteer senior firefighter for Hall Rural Fire Services, he was deployed to the Orroral Valley fire strike team and the ACT’s COVID response team.
Both emergency services persons are among the thousands supporting efforts to protect communities throughout the Territory, sometimes through worst-case scenarios.
And for their actions above and beyond the call of duty, both have been recognised by the Rotary – with its motto of ‘Service above self’ – at the annual ACT Rotary Emergency Services Community Awards (RESCA).
Of the nine finalists, both were named Rotary ACT Emergency Service Officer of the Year – Loryn in a paid capacity and Joel as a volunteer.
Rotary Clubs of ACT Emergency Services Community Awards Committee Chair Steve Hill said behind every act to protect a community – whether on disaster frontlines or via more fundamental initiatives – are hundreds of volunteers and support staff that make it possible.
“I was a copper 38 years and can tell you now, without all those people behind you, you can’t get the job done,” he said.
“What we’re looking at is not just what they do on the frontline or in uniform, but what they do outside of that.
“That’s not to say they can’t be the best on the job, but that alone won’t win them a RESCA – it’s also what they do for the community off the job.”
Loryn was recently recognised with the Commissioner’s Medal for Conspicuous Conduct for going above and beyond her regular duties. A long-time member and chair of her children’s school board, she also coaches a local basketball team and supports regional agricultural shows as a judge and steward in her spare time.
The scope of her peer-to-peer work for the ACT Police Welfare Team ranges from basic stress-related matters in the workplace and at home to complex PTSD matters.
“A lot of my work does revolve around mental health space, but we’re obviously not clinicians,” she said.
“Often we act as a conduit for care, ensuring they are referred on to professionals, whether it be for mental or physical related injuries.
“The job wants to fund help from specialists in the necessary fields externally to get our members well and back into the workplace as fast as possible.
“We also attend critical incidents to make sure everyone at those scenes is looked after while conducting their duties. I don’t perceive myself as frontline in this moment of my career – I see it as keeping the frontline well, so they can best support the community.”
Though she was “delighted” to win the title, Loryn admitted accepting awards was not in her wheelhouse.
“I do feel like I’m just doing my job … As coppers, we’re not very good at acknowledging each other or receiving accolades,” she said.
“But I’m proud and honoured to have been recognised … particularly when I consider the Rotary motto ‘service above self’ – it’s lovely to know that’s how people feel I approach my work.”
Joel’s volunteer journey started at age six when he joined the Surf Lifesaving Nippers. He started officially “patrolling” at the age of 13 and later served as a volunteer for the Batemans Bay Surf Lifesaving Club.
“Ever since I was young, I had been interested in emergency services and first responders and wanted to be involved in a local team … I joined Hall [RFS] at 16,” he said.
Joel said volunteering has enriched his life in more ways than one – from the friendships he knows he will have for life to opportunities for deployments and training courses and the skills he has gained, which he has been able to apply in everyday life. But his win surprised him.
“All the finalists were very deserving and there was certainly some tough competition,” he said
“Like many people who volunteer in the services, I don’t do it for the recognition and try to fly under the radar; however, it is fulfilling to be recognised.”
RESCA nominees were ACT Fire and Rescue, ACT State Emergency Service, ACT Ambulance Service, ACT Rural Fire Service and ACT Policing staff.
The judging criteria looked at the community service nominees undertook over and above the call of regular duties, personal attributes and contributions to their organisations.
The other paid finalists were Christopher Condon (ACT Rural Fire Service), Megan Davis (ACT Ambulance), Graham Ible (ACT State Emergency Services), Meredith Leach (ACT Support Services), Chris Hart (ACT Fire and Rescue) and the other volunteer finalists were Len Morris(ACT State Emergency Services) and Sandra Malnar (ACT Policing).