Support the SES so they can support you
RAIN, hail or shine SES volunteers are there whenever disaster strikes.
Now the SES is calling on the local community to be there for them in their time of need by making a donation to its ‘virtual tin rattle’ fundraising drive.
Community engagement officer for SES Bellarine Unit, Wendy Rabone, has attended storms, floods, fallen trees, searches for missing people and motor car accidents.
The jobs can be natural disasters, ‘manmade’ or sometimes even ‘teenage-made’ disasters.
“We did a beach rescue recently at Point Lonsdale where a boy was trapped; kids had dug a big hole in the sand and it compacted around his body when they filled it up,” Wendy says.
Ambulance, fire, police and the SES were all at the scene. It took a couple hours to get the boy out of the hole.
The incident occurred away from the shoreline and not lower down in the wet sand where you might expect it to occur.
“Thank god, they didn’t bury him any higher than his waist because his lungs could have been crushed,” Wendy says.
It all starts with a message on the pager. Available volunteers put on their signature orange protective gear and attend the scene.
“You just do what you can, when you can,” Wendy says.
Wendy and her husband have been involved for about six years and some members have been volunteering for 10 to 15 years.
“We’ve had quite a few storm events on the Bellarine Peninsula over the years, but we’ve also been seconded to go and help out in other places too.”
The Bellarine Unit membership usually consists of about 35 to 40 members and they are currently recruiting for more.
“We started to do it because we’d just moved to the area,” Wendy recalls.
“We wanted to give something back to the community and we wanted to get out and meet like-minded people.
“Most of us are in it because we enjoy helping people. Along the way you learn new skills and meet some fantastic people.”
Everyone does a general rescue training when they first start.
“So that gives you just the basics,” Wendy says.
“But we also have specific training courses for using a chainsaw, using the road crash rescue equipment, doing land searches and mapping navigation courses.”
After a volunteer was hit by a car in Geelong while doing a roadside tin collection, the SES now conducts virtual tin rattles.
Wendy says the funding the SES gets from government does not meet all its operational costs.
“We have what we call rescue one, which is our main big truck,” she says.
“We have a smaller rescue support truck, and we have two four-wheel drives.”
The unit must replace the four-wheel drives every 10 years and that is where any funds raised will go.
“If we’ve ever come out to assist you in a storm or a flood or wherever SES are volunteering, we’re not being paid and we would appreciate any support,” Wendy says.
Donate to the SES Bellarine Unit virtual tin rattle at givenow.com.au/bellarineses