NEW Warrnambool police crime scene officer Senior Constable Fiona Reid still shudders when she thinks about her involvement with the Black Saturday bushfires.
Nanjing Night Net

The 35-year-old officer is trained in disaster victim identification, skills that saw her sent to badly affected areas including King Lake and Marysville for several days after the fires.

“It was pretty tough,” she said. “Not a lot of crime scene officers were offered the chance to do the disaster victim identification training — a few in the city, just in case.

“At the time I was doing it I supposed they would never need me.

“I identified quite a few people. You had to go in there physically, find the people and transport them out. You had to pick them out of the scene.”

That experience still affects her to this day.

“If I see or hear something about Black Saturday I shudder a little bit.

“It was like landing on another planet. Everything was burnt, we were knee-deep in ash, there was not a leaf on a tree,” she said.

“We got people back to their family so they could say goodbye.

“It was about treating people with dignity.”

Senior Constable Reid has spent 10 years in the police force, starting at Melbourne East before time at the busy Sunshine and Werribee stations.

“Sunshine was a busy station, crazy busy, that really opened my eyes.

“It is very multicultural and a lower socio-economic demographic with a lot of problems relating to drugs and gangs.

“We were always very busy. There was lots of work relating to photographs which had to be of professional standard to be submitted to court, as well as DNA and fingerprints.”

Senior Constable Reid said there were also problems with Indians being the targets of robbery in Sunshine and in the city.

“Indians were targeted because they often carry the latest iPods and iPhones on trains.

“They are seen as easy targets and I spent a lot of time processing those scenes and taking photos of injuries at Sunshine especially,” she said.

“With the assistance of the media and targeted operations, things have improved.

“People are becoming more educated and aware. People assume nothing will happen to them but it does.

“It’s best to pop expensive items out of sight and remain in well-lit areas.”

The crime scene officer said when she went to Werribee it was one of the fastest growing areas outside Melbourne.

“There was a population boom and it was a challenge in relation to police numbers.

“It was a struggle. All crime categories were going up.

“Police numbers were stretched. There were many burglaries.

“We also attended car collisions and took measurements of the scenes, attended serious assaults and suicides and took photos.”

Senior Constable Reid also assisted during the Queensland floods in a more general capacity to help stop looting.

“There was a bit going on unfortunately. That was more about community policing and proactive policing.

“I was glad to be of help for two weeks,” she said.

“I saw water as high as a Bunnings store roof and a caravan tipped upside-down on a double-storey roof.

“I’ve seen a few natural disasters and I’ll definitely volunteer for that sort of role again.”

The officer grew up on a farm at Pooncarie, New South Wales, about 130 kilometres north of Mildura.

“I’ve always loved the country and decided it was time for a sea change,” she said.

“I’m single, very single, but I am looking forward to meeting new people.

“The work here is different and we cover a huge area.

“I visited Warrnambool growing up and I’ve been very pleased to be able to move here.”

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Senior Constable Fiona Reid is joining Warrnambool’s crime scene investigation team.

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