Warren Ruplal with some of the tools of his trade at the Torquay SES headquarters. Photo: MICHAEL CHAMBERS

The man for a crisis

May 14, 2020 BY

FROM floods to bushfires to road accidents, Torquay State Emergency Services (SES) member Warren Ruplal has shown the best of the volunteering spirit in helping with some of the worst emergencies.

In his time at the unit, Mr Ruplal has attended more than 200 Requests for Assistance.

One of his most notable contributions came early this year when he opted to be part of the SES team to go to Mallacoota to help in the bushfire recovery efforts.

Mr Ruplal said seeing the ruin caused by the fires emphasised the importance of the help the SES was providing.

“We were flying over the bushfire area and saw the devastation of the fires and the patterns they had burned. Until you were there, you couldn’t actually quantify it.

“We were making a difference to the locals because they were so exhausted and so tired. So being there to relieve them of what they were doing and giving them a hand so they could have that full night’s sleep was really helpful.”

The SES team were involved with various organisations helping in the recovery efforts, including some focused on looking after the afflicted wildlife.

Flying home in a plane they shared with some of the animals rescued from the fires helped illustrate the difference Mr Ruplal could make through his role.

He said he was grateful to have had to opportunity to aid with the recovery.

“It wasn’t just helping the people, but helping the environment. That’s the whole concept of being a citizen, and that was what was rewarding, being there with that mindset that we’re here to help so you guys (the Mallacoota residents) can have some time off.”

Mr Ruplal spends a lot of time as the Torquay unit’s duty officer.

He said the work away from the frontline was no less important even though it might be less visible.

“What really shines for me is the work that goes on in the background.

“When we have a Request for Assistance, that comes through to us through a duty officer that filters the call and gets all the information we need, and we go out with the information we then have.

“Especially now with COVID-19, it’s so important that we have that triage before we actually leave the unit.”

Mr Ruplal said the Torquay unit has recognised how crucial this background work was.

“To run a strong unit like the Torquay unit you need strong management and how we all co-ordinate things.

“So a lot of behind the scenes things happen, and then when you actually go out on a job, the trucks have fuel, the equipment has been maintained, every is top shape so you can do your duty as an SES member without having to worry about failure and all that sort of stuff.”

Mr Ruplal sacrifices his own time to help, and occasionally his own safety too, but he said the fulfillment and “adventure” volunteering provides makes the sacrifices worthwhile.

“Would I recommend someone joining the SES? I would say absolutely. It’s an environment where you get to test your learned skills.

“It is an awesome experience to be out there, doing what you are trained, helping someone.”

Monday, May 18 marks the start of Volunteer Week. May 20 is also Wear Orange Wednesday, where people are encouraged to dress in the colour synonymous with the SES to show their gratitude to the volunteers such as Mr Ruplal, who dedicate themselves to keeping their community safe.