By Brett Kennedy
FROM mitigating the impacts of extreme weather events to supporting road crash or rescue operations, no week is the same for Limestone Coast State Emergency Service volunteers.
The group of around 110 trained individuals, spanning from Bordertown to the southern coast and west to Kingston, is currently looking to expand with residents urged to consider joining as volunteers.
SES South East district officer Brad Flew said the organisation’s diversity was not just reflected in its roles and tasks, but in its volunteers.
“We have a broad range of people from tradespeople to white collar workers, stay at home parents, and it is a really diverse group age-wise from retirees through to people fresh out of high school,” Mr Flew said.
Mat Tye joined the volunteer agency in 1994 as a 16-year-old cadet, and was last year appointed Mount Gambier and District unit manager.
“Over time the training has changed and progressed, much like the SES itself – it has come a long way from where it started,” Mr Tye said.
“The new national accrediation you receive from training is a good thing for members to be involved in,” he said.
At the other end of the spectrum, Ben Lamb and Jonathan Basford have served the Mount Gambier unit for around 12 months, both relocating to the district within the last decade and subsequently searching for a way to give back.
“I’m originally from Queensland so it is a way to try and meet new people while helping the community as well,” Mr Lamb said.
“I was involved in a similar organisation when I lived in Adelaide and I started looking at the SES because I wanted that experience back – helping the community, helping save lives and being back out there,” Mr Basford said.
Mr Flew is hopeful a new batch of volunteers from across the region will step up to a new challenge, with the agency offering a myriad of pathways and training opportunities for volunteers.
In addition to being the control agency during extreme weather events – such as heat, storms and flooding – members can also service as road crash rescue responders, land search personnel, as well as communications operators and administrative and logistics support.
In addition to local operations, Limestone Coast SES crews have also been tasked nationally in times of emergency.
Most recently, a group of volunteers nominated to be sent to flood-ravaged New South Wales, arriving in Adelaide to be deployed, only to be told they were no longer required.
“You can really put your hand up and say this is the area I’m interested in and we can usually find a suitable role,” Mr Flew said.
“Smaller communities are typically harder to find volunteers because people are already contributing to other volunteer groups,” he said.
“We don’t expect our volunteers to answer every call, it is when they’re available.”
Mr Flew while all volunteers were welcome, there was a need for people available during business hours to help when required.
The regional SES leader also called on Limestone Coast residents to prepare for the winter months now while the weather remained calm.
“During winter we see a fair bit of work, whether that’s trees down or on a house, to local flooding and blocked storm drains,” Mr Flew said.
“We are asking people to do that preventative maintenance now, such as clearing your gutters and making sure everything is in order on your property.”
Visit www.ses.sa.gov.au for more information on volunteering.