The Council of Pharmacy Schools sent out a call for academic pharmacists throughout Australia to offer services to regions impacted by bushfires and La Trobe University Bendigo's Richard Summers and Nicholas Standen stepped up.
The lecturers and practicing pharmacists spent four days in late January at the Bairnsdale Regional Health Service as locum pharmacists.
"We didn't know what we were going into and didn't know what we were going to find once we got there," Mr Standen said.
Their role in Bairnsdale took the load off staff who were required to do out of the ordinary duties, such as coordinate medication deliveries with the Australian Defence Force.
"We wanted to go there and give them a break and be a positive voice," Mr Standen said.
The emotional toll of the bushfires was noticeable, Mr Summers said.
"People weren't thinking they were hard done by though.
"As a community, they were very supportive of one another," he said.
Mr Standen noticed the iconic Bushmaster vehicles, built in Bendigo, on the streets of Bairnsdale, along with a heavy defence force and emergency services presence.
"There would be 10 soldiers and 10 police officers gathering at McDonald's.
"The place was full of uniforms.
"It was a bit strange in that sense and the state of high alert could be felt all through the town," Mr Standen said.
A visit to the nearby communities of Paynesville and Lakes Entrance demonstrated the impact the bushfires had on tourism in those local communities, Mr Summers said.
"It was peak season at Lakes Entrance, and it was almost a ghost town.
"Those communities are crying out for people to come and visit," he said.
The four-day stint was not without its challenges, as patients presented without their medication history and with smoke-related illnesses.
Mr Standen recalls providing care to a patient who was on a rare prescription medication that is not routinely stocked by health services.
"This man's house had burnt down and we had to find another hospital that stocked this rare medication and get it to Bairnsdale.
"The normal job of a pharmacist in accessing medications is magnified in a rural location, and it was turned up even more in that situation with people losing everything," Mr Standen said.
As they gear up for the upcoming academic year, both Mr Summers and Mr Standen gained a lot from their experiences in Bairnsdale.
"We'd do it again in a heartbeat," they said.