Paul Elso was awarded the National Emergency Medal for his role in protecting lives and property during the bushfires that devastated Victoria on Black Saturday in 2009. This medal recognises service to others during nationally significant emergencies. Elso performed the role of Strike Team Leader in the Whittlesea area on Black Saturday; he and his crew were forced to take refuge in a tanker when they came under extreme ember attack. All survived.
A Senior Station Officer with the Craigieburn Fire Brigade, Elso joined the Country Fire Authority as a volunteer in 1997, moving to a career role in 2001. He has worked in a number of locations across metropolitan and country Victoria, attending bush and structural fires, accidents, rescues and other incidents and training new members.
Teamwork and communication are keys to success in his role, Elso says. He relishes developing practical skills, and has also undertaken a Diploma of Management during his time with the CFA.
The CFA has more than 59,000 volunteers and 1800 career firefighters as well as community educators and support personnel across 1218 brigades, 20 districts and eight Victorian regions. The CFA undertakes fire and emergency coordination statewide, promotes community awareness, plans fire safety, and provides investigative and other technical services.