Four months’ of calls in a day for Terang volunteers

Four months’ of calls in a day for Terang volunteers

22/09/2023, 9:00 AM

(Photo credit: VICSES)

On Friday 8 September, when a violent storm front passed through the southwest of Victoria, 22 Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES) Units, including Terang SES, were mobilised to assist with the large number of calls for help.

While Terang was somewhat spared the full impacts felt by communities at Warrnambool and Port Fairy, the Terang SES unit still responded to 23 Requests for Assistance (RFAs), which is around a third of their annual average (66) in just one day.

“We do a lot of tree work,” says Jamie, “we are vulnerable to high winds here and a lot of trees can come down over roads and properties.”

Danny Rollo, who works at the local hospital, volunteers with the VICSES as a driver and worked as part of crew of three on the day. “There was one roof that came down in Nullawarre, which we patched up from the inside, given how gusty it still was.”

VICSES volunteers are trained in the Safe Working at Heights System (SWAHS), if they need to tackle building damage, but SWAHS and its rope-system are not the first option volunteers will take when assessing a job. If it’s safer to do it inside the house, or work from a ladder, they will do this instead.

The crew of three -  Danny, Adam Rowe, and Elizabeth English - went from job to job until 2:30pm, five-and-a-half hours later. “We don’t have a roster for all the members,” says Danny, “the pager goes off and whoever is available will go.”

“It’s hard to juggle volunteering and work. We could do with more people being available on weekday mornings, especially for Road Crash Rescue (RCR) incidents.”

Even though Danny has not trained for RCR, he can still assist at incidents by ensuring the tools are ready to go, taking instructions from the crew leader managing the incident.

“I like that I’m giving something back to the community, and helping where I can. It’s always a good feeling. I didn’t plan on joining VICSES. I tagged along with someone else to an information night, and signed up.”

“We have eleven active members at the unit, but the average age on the high side,” says Terang Unit Controller Jamie Rowe. The unit is actively recruiting volunteers to take on a range of tasks typically needed throughout its response area: chainsaw operation, traffic management, and road crash rescue.

VICSES Terang Unit is the local Road Crash Rescue (RCR) service provider for the Terang community and surrounds, and has responded to 5 RCR incidents in the local area last year. Each of VICSES’ 104 accredited units, including Terang, is tested every three years, along with other agencies providing RCR coverage across the state.

Would you like to join Danny and the other members of VICSES Terang Unit and assist your community in the next big weather event? For your time, you receive nationally-recognised training with the opportunity to pursue specialist learning pathways such as SWAHS, RCR, and much more.