THEY are the people we call when we feel nature’s wrath but they need more volunteers to help them to help you.
Tamworth SES will throw open its doors today to celebrate 50 years in the community and to encourage interested people to go along and learn more about the service and how they can help.
“We currently have 25 active members with a few more to call on in times of need but we need more,” Tamworth unit controller Jeremy Bridges said.
“When there is an event it is standard practice to have four to five people in a crew. At the moment that means five crews on the ground if everyone is available.”
After the December 2012 hail storm the Tamworth crew were helped by other units in the region as well as Gosford, Wyong, Taree, Moree, Harrington, Sutherland and Sydney to secure damaged premises as quickly as possible.
Mr Bridges said having more volunteers locally meant more crews to help people faster.
Tamworth SES has no paid employees. It is operated by volunteers and the majority of its funding is a result of the work such as traffic and crowd control undertaken by these unpaid workers.
“We do receive some grants but they are usually for specific community educational or training projects,” Mr Bridges said.
The money raised by this work is put back into the purchase and maintenance of equipment and the ongoing training of the volunteers.
The SES offers full training to their volunteers and all of the qualifications earned are nationally recognised.
Skills include first aid, chainsaw operation, swift water and some training towards a certificate IV assessor.
The 25 active members do everything from keeping everyone on the job informed by radio, through to getting their hands dirty cutting up fallen trees, ensuring the public is safe during times of flood and helping out other emergency services at accident scenes.
“There are lots of options and different ways to help as an SES volunteer,” Mr Bridges said.
“Volunteers can be involved in climbing on rooftops and cutting down trees or helping out in the office.
“It’s voluntary, after all, and most of us have full-time jobs to hold down, too.”
The age of volunteers ranges from 19 to 75 and there is a high female to male ratio in the Tamworth unit.
To mark the unit’s milestone in our community, activities planned include a barbecue, jumping castle and face painting for the kids and the cutting of a 50th birthday cake.
It starts at 10am at the Lockheed St base.