Join SES volunteers for one minute silence at 11am today on 11 November 2016 to remember those who sacrificed their life during war. We also honour the World War II veterans who helped establish the Victorian State Emergency Service (VICSES).
SES began as the Victoria Civil Defence Organisation in 1950. The Victoria Civil Defence Organisation was originally established in 1950 to act as a volunteer based civil defence agency, which could quickly be activated in the event of war.
“The Civil Defence was largely established as a result of the cold war era and modelled the Air Raid Precautions Organisation in Great Britain,” recalls former SES Regional Director, Brian Rickard. “Rescue teams and welfare groups set up to deal with the effects of atomic, biological and chemical warfare.”
SES units in those days were trained in welfare, rescue, and first aid based on a military structure. By the 1960s in the wake of the Geelong Bush Fires, Dandenong and the lessoning of nuclear threat SES was increasingly used to respond to natural disasters.
In 1975 SES transitioned from civil defence to the emergency response organisation we know today. Read more about our history here.
Peter Simmons PSM, former Regional Director North West Region, Swan Hill/Bendigo from 1975 to 2000 remembers the early struggle to keep the organisation going. “We were given a vehicle, small office, and even smaller budget. I think our petty cash was $20 a year,” Peter recalls.
David Coldbeck OAM was the Regional Director of the Southwest Region Hamilton from 1975 to 2000. He remembers using hand operated tools to get people out of wrecks. “Now we have hydraulic rescue equipment that cuts the time it takes to get people out of crushed vehicles,” he says of the skills that make SES the leading road rescue experts.
David argues that the strength of the organisation is that it supports people at a local level to respond to emergencies.
Today SES volunteers are 5000 strong highly trained and accredited emergency response experts.
Find out what it takes to be a volunteer.