A 21-year-old Tralee man is preparing to fly out to Australia today to help combat the deadly fires that have decimated the Australian landscape for the past number of weeks.
Connor Nourse from Lee Drive was speaking to The Kerryman on Monday afternoon where he told us of receiving a call from the State Emergency Service (SES) on Kangaroo Island - a service that he had previously volunteered with - on Sunday morning asking him to fly to Australia on Wednesday to help with the fire-fighting efforts there.
It is clearly a sign of the huge pressure and challenges that emergency services in Australia are being put under from the unprecedented scale of the fires that Connor, who has been living back home in Kerry for the past two years, received the call from the emergency services to come back and help.
"It was very last minute. I got a phone call on Sunday and I'm off on Wednesday so it's not that much time to prepare and get everything ready."
Connor was just 18-years-old when he volunteered with the service when he was living in Australia and now he said that he is more than happy to answer the last minute call for aid and head back down under on such short notice.
As part of his role when he arrives, Connor will use his skills and training to become part of the fire bomber support crew where his tasks will be numerous.
"I lived there before. I was a volunteer with the State Emergency Service (SES). We're a rescue service as part of the emergency services. I was also with the coastguard. So, I'll be re-joining both of those," said Connor.
"The SES are tasked with the fire bomber support and a lot of the after fire clean up, asset recovery, asset protection and basically a lot of the logistics. The fire bombers that will be dropping all the solutions and what not on the fires. We will be refuelling and filling them up with the mixtures. Whatever the pilots need, we'll be looking after them," said Connor speaking about what his duties will entail.
Kangaroo Island is located off the southern coast of Australia and Connor said that due to the severe strain that the country's fire-fighters are facing, it's a case of all hands on deck.
"Kangaroo Island is separate in a way because they have a very limited number of volunteers and I spoke to the Commander and he said that they need all the help that they can get over there."
As for how long he will be away from home, Connor said that the initial time frame of being there just for the summer months is now looking more and more like being a lot longer.
"It's indefinite until everything is kind of done and dusted I suppose. I's say that I'll be over there even longer than that [the summer months]. There was talk of an eight month stay to fully clean up."
With all this thrust upon his young shoulders so quickly, most people would have every right to feel trepidation heading over there, but Connor said that he is hopeful that he'll be able to help out in his own small way.
"I think it will kind of hit home when I'm there. It really hasn't hit me yet. I'm excited to go back and be able to use the training that I've had and try and do my best, help out and hopefully make a difference," he said.