John Cowan has been honoured with the Queen's Birthday 2022 Award for a lifetime of service and commitment.
When a situation is critical, it's good to have someone like John around. John is the EAS Design Manager for Ventia, making him a key part of the Emergency Alerting Service (EAS) team, supporting critical communications that connect people to emergency services across Victoria.
When he's not supporting Ventia clients, John is likely to be found striving to keep metro and rural communities safe through his other work with the Victorian Country Fire Authority (CFA). He has spent 44 years of service with the CFA - a dedication that recently earned him the prestigious Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM) in the Queen's Birthday 2022 Honours List.
Combining hobby and career in Ventia's EAS project
Dedicating yourself to emergency services as both an employee and volunteer might seem intense, but when you're as passionate about enhancing emergency communications, preparedness and capability as John is, it seems like the perfect combination.
His more than 50 years of experience with, and knowledge of, emergency services and communications networks have been paramount to the success of Ventia's EAS project with the Victorian Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA).
Victorian Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority
ESTA provides life-saving emergency call-taking and dispatch services for all Victorians. Ventia designed, constructed and installed ESTA's mission critical EAS network, and performs ongoing operations and maintenance services providing safer and more responsive emergency alerting across the state.
I am incredibly lucky that my hobby and interest in radio is part of my job designing radio systems and networks, and that I get to do it alongside a fantastic team of people.
'I can't speak more highly of this team - we're highly collaborative, innovative, and very tight knit,' John said.
"We're producing very specialised technology, and even though it's only a small group of people, the technical, intelligent solutions I've seen them produce is mind bending!"
John is proud to be part of an innovative team providing specialised, technical solutions to enhance emergency communications.
A lifetime of service to the Victorian Country Fire Authority
The same attributes that make John such an asset to Ventia, have clearly carried him through in his many successes with the CFA.
Joining his local CFA brigade in 1978, John's contribution has been extraordinary. From fighting numerous fires (including both the Ash Wednesday and Black Saturday devastating fire events), to educating the community, and responding to other major incidents and emergencies; his mission always to protect lives and property.
Training upcoming leaders in emergency management
Currently a 3rd Lieutenant in the District 14 Headquarters East Brigade and a Level Three Planning Officer, John's expertise and interests lie in people and high-level incident management. He has devoted recent years to advocating for the welfare of CFA members and ensuring there is a sustainable pool of future leaders experienced in emergency management.
His work in these areas has seen him identify, train and mentor emerging operational leaders; provide input to submissions about issues impacting members; and, notably, during the COVID-19 pandemic he led the development of a virtual training program to ensure members stayed connected with each other and kept up their emergency management skills.
It (COVID) really threw a spanner in the works for many people, and it became clear we all needed to band together and keep communicating.
"The virtual training program was developed to do that - to help join people together during a pretty difficult time,' John explained.
"The results have been outstanding: our first session had five participants, and now we're up to session 168, regularly getting around 80 participants per session from CFA members across Victoria, other emergency service organisations, and even overseas audience members. In fact, two sessions have included more than 500 people from 18 countries!".
John's lifetime of experience with, and knowledge of, emergency services and communications networks have been essential to the success of Ventia's Emergency Alerting Service (EAS) project.
Being part of a broader team and contributing to a greater cause clearly drives John and it has also helped him through some challenging times of his own. John's team were delighted when they heard about the award and cheered him on (from afar) when he was presented with his medal at an official Investiture Ceremony at Government House Victoria this month.
EAS Operations Manager Dhruv Rastogi is one who was proud to see John recognised in such a way.
A deserved honour befitting such a humble person.
"We're lucky to have John on our team", he said.