SES: Meet our everyday heroes

ONE text message is all it takes. Walking the dog, out for a jog or sound asleep, a NSW SES volunteer triggers into action. When another family's life is turned upside down, they'll leave their own to respond to an emergency.

"The availability is 24 hours a day, 365 days a year," Grafton SES unit controller Adam Jarrett said.

"From waking up in the middle of sleep to all of a sudden being fully focused at a road crash. We need to perform as soon as we get there."

Often its life and death. And they do it - free of charge.

"It's completely unpaid. We don't get a single cent for what we do. But we do it with passion. We're well trained. Pay doesn't indicate level of competency."

Grafton City SES has about 50 members who meet for two and a half hours every Tuesday and many weekends to participate in training.

"Sandbagging, tarping rooves, rescues, we have to maintain our sharpness in all that we do. You don't just turn up and get an orange set of overalls. There are nationally accredited courses you need to go through."

Grafton City SES is the lead combat agency for storms, floods and tsunamis and the first rescue unit called out for road crash rescues.

"For the past month we were the second busiest road crash rescue unit in the state," Mr Jarrett said.

"We attended six jobs, including one along Summerland Way, one at Coutts Crossing and the other night at Halfway Creek.

"The fact we're volunteers doesn't take away from our professionalism and resilience. It is a credit to our volunteers that we work well surrounded by paid staff members from other emergency services at incidents."

 

JAWS OF LIFE: The support of local wrecking yards and towing companies is pivotal to Grafton City SES training activities.
JAWS OF LIFE: The support of local wrecking yards and towing companies is pivotal to Grafton City SES training activities.

WHO CAN BECOME A NSW SES VOLUNTEER?

THE NSW State Emergency Service has approximately 9000 volunteers in 230 units across the state.

Its volunteers come from a wide range of backgrounds. Some already work professionally in other emergency services and volunteer for the SES in their spare time. However, no prior experience is necessary to join. You just need to be over 16

The skills required to attend various NSW SES jobs are attained through nationally accredited training courses offered within NSW SES.

Volunteers participate in regular, weekly training including a minimum of 12 hours every six months to maintain each qualification.

"There's something for everybody in SES," Grafton City SES unit controller Adam Jarrett said.

The Grafton City SES unit responds to various emergencies including road crash and vertical rescues, floods and storm damage.

Various roles and units include road crash rescue, vertical rescue, swift water technicians, flood boat operators, land search and urban search and rescue.

"You don't have to do road crash or vertical rescue," Mr Jarrett said.

"If you want to turn up and be a radio operator, or operate our computer systems, or if you want to work in the control centre when there's a storm or a flood and coordinate resources or planning logistics, we call on those people as well.

"We have floodboat operators and chainsaw operators. Or you can just do storm and flood stuff if you want; go and tarp some rooves and do sandbags.

"We encourage anyone to come along to participate in the training."

JOIN SES

To register your interest to become a NSW SES volunteer visit www.ses.nsw. -gov.au/volunteering or phone 1800 201 000.

 

 

SES volunteers complete specialised courses to attend rescue operations.
SES volunteers complete specialised courses to attend rescue operations.

THE ROLE OF THE SES IN A STORM

People are commonly aware of the SES in storm and flood situations.

Grafton SES unit controller Adam Jarrett said the priority of the NSW SES is do prioritise making property safe.

"In relation to storms, floods and winds, if it's damage to your property or in any way prevents you from getting into or out of your property, then that's when NSW SES gets involved," Mr Jarrett said.

"Grafton City SES will go to fix temporary repairs or to let you get in or out of your house.

"If a tree just falls over in your backyard and it's in no way impeding you, your lifestyle or your house, that won't be an SES job. If a tree falls over and blocks a footpath or road, that's referred to council.

"But if a tree falls on your house, or water is leaking into your building, or a tree blocks your driveweay, that's the jobs NSW SES Grafton City go to."



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