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SES on the hunt for new members

By Sheree Hoddinett

They are known as the Orange Army, the group of selfless volunteers who turn up to help the community when disaster strikes. With the impact of Covid and other changes in people’s lives in recent years, SES groups across the Moreton Bay Region are looking for new members to join.

The group is searching for community minded people who want to help those in need, particularly with front line roles like: - storm damage operations including temporary repairs, tarping of roofs and debris clean up. - sandbagging operations - chainsaw operations - land and forensic searches - community engagement - operational support - flood boat evacuation and rescues.

Moreton Bay SES Unit Local Controller Sean Harrop said a loss of about 120 members due to life changes (moving, different jobs, starting families or no longer having time to volunteer) along with the impact of Covid and restrictions had a detrimental impact on the SES.

“Due to these factors we are looking for 100 people to join the Moreton Bay Unit across the different group areas in 2023,” Sean said. “SES is a great place to learn new skills and meet new people while helping those in need. You don’t need any particular skills to join as we will provide you with all the training and equipment needed. You just need a positive attitude and a want to help others. With how rapidly the Moreton Bay Region is growing we need more people to help as it takes a large team effort to help those in need. During the February floods, we answered 2443 requests for assistance. Each request is a unique and complex response requiring multiple people trained to do a wide variety of skills.”

Members will be provided training in multiple areas including effective assistance to the community, ropes and knots, ladders, how to operate communications equipment, Australasian Interservice Incident Management System (AIIMS), working in an emergency operations centre, forensic and missing person searches, operating chainsaws, emergency lighting, 4WD operations, flood boat operations, storm damage operations, working safely at heights, first aid, CPR and more. Training is tiered to build skills and confidence, so you won’t get thrown into the deep end with a chainsaw straight away.

“While all members don’t need to undertake all of these training courses there is a wide variety of different training people can undertake to support what they would like to do at SES,” Sean said. “We are really looking for those keen to get out in the field and help us with our core business in responding to severe weather and assisting with missing people or forensic searches.”

For Sean, joining the SES came about after going through a personal disaster experience. Sean’s family home in Brisbane was destroyed by the 2011 floods.

“This event had a profound impact on myself and my family and in many ways still affects us to this day,” Sean said. “I also remember feeling helpless and unsure about what to do afterwards until some SES volunteers came to our house after the flood water receded and asked what they could do to help. That is when I decided that I wanted to be there for those when they are having the worst day of their lives and doing what I can do to help them - even in a small way - recover from a disaster. While we cannot always stop homes from being flooded, especially during large flood disasters or hail falling from the sky, it is rewarding knowing that we can be there to help those in need. Sometimes what people need most is someone to say it will be okay and provide a shoulder to cry on. While there is so much we can do to help those in need, that simple human connection is the most rewarding part of being an SES volunteer.”

If you are interested in joining the SES, new members are welcome to join the following groups, with training on either a Tuesday or Wednesday night: • Bribie Island (Wednesday) - 224 First Avenue, Bongaree • Caboolture (Wednesday) - 10/12 Machinery Parade, Caboolture • Deception Bay (Wednesday) - 24 Old Bay Road, Deception Bay • Petrie (Tuesday) - 7 Ogg Road, Murrumba Downs • Redcliffe (Wednesday) - 35/41 Portwood Street, Redcliffe • Woodford (Wednesday) - 7/9 Princess Street, Woodford

• Arana Hills (Tuesday) - James Drysdale Reserve, Pine Hills Drive, Bunya

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