Who Are the Real First Responders?

The 2018 Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference is on next week over the 21-22 May at The Star Gold Coast.

Mr Jesse Mcneilly, Director at Safe Response joins us at the Conference to discuss ‘Who Are the Real First Responders?’

Mr Jesse Mcneilly


Jesse examines the direct links between bystander involvement in disasters and seeks to uncover the real first responder in all of us.

Have we been getting it all wrong for so many years by expecting the red and blue to solve all of our problems? With a clear definition of ‘first response’ we can go on to empower our true untapped resources in disasters. Today, the term ‘resilience’ has taken a mainstay in our modern disaster and emergency language, is it actually integrated at all levels into our national approach and framework/s? If we seek better engagement pathways and empowerment strategies our overall costs to human life and the economy can surely be improved by clearly defining what first response is and means to all of us.

This talk examines the layers of first response and seeks to clarify our deep understanding of what this term actually relates to and therefore is. With anecdotal thoughts to currently steer our general perceptions of this term, is this enough in our ever changing and complex disaster landscape? With more access to information than ever, greater empirical evidence can now be accessed to enhance our social norm of first response, and thus create new knowledge to empower safer results.

Jesse’s talk is surprisingly simple, yet asks much of his audience with a focus on redefining our social and institutional perceptions. From here, we can then go on to truly empower our communities and create more realistic and measured results.


Jesse Mcneilly is an army veteran, emergency service officer, entrepreneur and Masters Student of Disaster and Emergency Response at Edith Cowan University. He is a current serving member of the ADF and travels as a member of disaster response teams and is a former diplomatic security contractor and bodyguard. His involvement in personal tragedy, a range of disasters and emergencies, public engagement programs, training and academia seeks to challenge our antiquated logic for better reform and management. Jesse currently owns and runs Safe Response, a safety and emergency training company focusing on realistic simulations to increase bystander and inter-sector involvement in emergencies to improve public safety.

For more information on the 2018 Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference and to secure your spot, visit the conference website.