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Jacobs Employee Leads Disaster Response as Team Rubicon Australia’s First Incident Commander

Shane Durdin, a Health, Safety & Environment (HSE) Director in Jacobs’ Center of Excellence for HSE, Security & Sustainability, was named the first Incident Commander/Task Force Leader for Team Rubicon Australia. He led the volunteer organization’s first stand-alone disaster relief effort in response to Tropical Cyclone Debbie, a 600-mile wide storm that battered the Whitsundays region of Queensland, Australia with winds of over 160 miles per hour for over 30 hours. It resulted in extensive flooding, power and communication network outages.

Team Rubicon Australia is a veteran-led organization that recruits, trains, equips, organizes and deploys veterans, first responders and civilian volunteers to aid in disaster response operations. They demonstrate that veterans are powerful resources with skills to be harnessed. Durdin, a veteran of the Australian Army, led rotating tasks forces of volunteers known as “Greyshirts” assisting the aged and the vulnerable through damage assessments, debris clean up, clearing of fallen trees and welfare checks. 

Apart from the mission to provide disaster recovery and relief to the community, Durdin established two other objects: to run a 100% safe operation and to provide the volunteers with the best possible experience. Team Rubicon offers veterans a unique opportunity to be part of humanitarian efforts with a unified purpose, mission and intensity reminiscent of military experience. Every evening, Durdin facilitated a debrief with the team about the day’s work and how it had affected them personally, both negatively and positively. “It was an outpouring of emotions, and everyone celebrated personal and team achievements,” says Durdin.

Team Rubicon Australia’s CEO Geoff Evans commended Durdin, “Shane arrived in an uncertain environment, with limited resources and an untested, all volunteer staff.   He immediately set about bringing order, professionalism and enthusiasm to the team and set TRA up for enduring success . . . Shane was able to produce the best result from our volunteers at all times.  This was in part a reflection of his leadership experience, and partly due to the fact that he led by personal example at all times.”

Catriona Schmolke, SVP and Global Head of Health, Safety, Environment, Security, & Sustainability, is not surprised by Evans’ commendations. “Shane exemplifies BeyondZero, our culture of caring,” she says. “He answered Team Rubicon’s call, and responded with bravery and compassion to the people he served and his fellow volunteers. I’m proud to have people like Shane on our team.”

Durdin values the time he spent serving with Team Rubicon. “To be able to help communities as well as veterans has been a humbling and extremely gratifying experience,” he says. 

Read more about Durdin’s mission on Team Rubicon Australia’s website. For more information, visit Team Rubicon’s global website.


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