Invisible Injuries- Mental health ambassadors

S04E09 - Barry Randal (Operation Soul Surf) pt1

November 28, 2023

S04E09 - Barry Randal (Operation Soul Surf) pt1



"Routine Jobs With Big Consequences"

In this episode were thrilled to have Barry Randal, a career first responder of 30 years and excitedly our 1st police officer on the podcast join us to share his story and the inspirational work he's doing with Operation Soul Surf.

Casting back to his early days Barry remembered a strong sense of community at a young age.   Extended family and friends in the Police Force on the NSW  Coast, who were respected those days. He played Rugby League and Rugby Union and the usual things at a young age but once he started to focus on  recruiting a friend contacted him to say there was a heavy Police recruiting drive in Victoria.   So he left the sea and surf to move to Melbourne.  

Andy asks how Barry’s role in the Police Force was determined.    In Victoria they are trained as a General Duty uniformed officer.  After that 2 year foundation you may specialise in another area, then there is a  ballot process and you could go anywhere. He goes on to explain his posting to Aubury Wodonga after graduating in early 1995.   

It was a bit of shock for the staff there as well as Barry.   Them knowing how to do stuff quickly and a punk recruit knowing nothing in the middle of their well oiled rural station.  I did a lot of listening at 21 while my best mate there was 65 and a great mentor. 

At first it was a good lifestyle until my partner and I had a lethal force incident.  It began as a typical routine noise complaint but rapidly escalated.  Barry’s partner was a female with a good deal more experience than he did and the focus was resolve things in “Safeway” for all concerned but it didn’t pan out that way.  Barry walked the audience through the backend of a fatal shooting and the timelines starting with his night shift at 11pm and finishing 4:30pm the following day.  How that felt to be part of that process.  He expanded on the environment then around mental health and his conflicting advice as to when to return to work.  

First they discussed the merits/ pitfalls of early/delayed return and then move on to the GP presenting issues.  Mainly hyper vigilance causing  “maximum overdrive mentally” for every little job then a “dump” at the end of the day Barry volunteers, which is not good for your body and brain.   Insomnia, low energy, dulling it with a few bourbons was the progression.   Then a good friend of a similar age casually intervened and  eventually encouraged the GP visit which Barry is grateful for.  

Be sure to tune into Part 2 where Barry discusses his PTSD 30 years on,  his personal care plan, how he self manages and the upside that  “Water” provides as therapy for him and others.

Contact -  Barry Randal
Help Lines Open Arms (VVCS) | Lifeline | RedSix app


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