Mortlake spared worst of storm as SES volunteers look to the future

Mortlake spared worst of storm as SES volunteers look to the future

21/09/2023, 10:01 AM

(L-R): VICSES Mortlake Unit volunteers Raymond Edwards and Anthony Spoore. 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 Mortlake SES, were mobilised to assist with the large number of calls for help.

While Mortlake was somewhat spared by the full impacts felt by communities at Warrnambool and Port Fairy, four volunteers from the SES Mortlake Unit came together to assist with the situation and together responded to six Requests for Assistance (RFAs) from impacted community members.

“We had five trees down and one for building damage,” says VICSES volunteer Anthony Spoore. “The local service station saw the signage around the front broken off, so we managed to get up on the roof, assessed that the bolts that affixed the signage had come loose, reattached some of those, and used ropes to lash it down until a more permanent solution could be found.”

“The wind had died down a bit at that point, thankfully.”

Anthony was on his way to work that morning when he got a page from SES dispatch to attend a call for help. “It spiraled from there to a full day of responding to calls,” says Anthony.

Anthony is self-employed, which gives him the flexibility to volunteer. Reflecting on why he does it, Anthony says, “it’s not like you’re digging holes. You’re out helping other people, having a bit of an adventure with your friends, and it can be whatever you make it.”

He admits to the difficulty in finding new recruits. “My next door neighbour was looking for something to do, so I asked her to help us with administration and operating of the radio,” says Anthony. “It’s not all about cutting down trees and helping with road accidents; that’s not for everyone.”

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

“I think people get the wrong idea about volunteering, where you do a lot of things for nothing for no reward,” says Anthony. I don’t see it that way. I do a lot of training and callouts. Not a lot of people want to get up at 2:00am and pull a tree off a road.

“But, if it’s saving someone having an accident, it’s worth it,” he continues.

Would you like to join Anthony and the other volunteers to 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 community engagement, RCR, and much more.