Helping others can often have the benefit of helping yourself. This is something Ally has found in her volunteer work with the SES, learning new skills, taking on new challenges, and growing within the organisation.
An Early Start
Ally joined the SES straight out of high school, after her Mum saw an ad for their local unit.
She got into course after course, succeeding in role after role, and six years later, she’s still finding new things to learn.
“It’s more about what I get out of it, and a side effect is that I get to help people”
A Balancing Act
In addition to her volunteer work, Ally attends university as well as working part time. There have been times when she has had to prioritise her volunteer work ahead of her studies, and is grateful that her work and university are flexible during times when she may have to travel to emergency situations. This can mean she keeps strange hours, but the sacrifice is worth making.
Something to Learn
One of the first learning curves Ally faced was understanding the role of the SES. Previously, she had thought the SES played a part in fire and rescue operations, a common assumption.
Learning more about what the SES does, largely their role in flood rescue, opened her mind to the many avenues for success and learning in the organisation. Ally has developed skills in team leading, incident handling, and has recently completed training in swift water rescue.
“It was nothing I had ever expected to learn when I rocked up on the first night.”
In Deep Water
At one of Ally’s first emergency call outs, she faced an intense and life changing experience. When she and her unit arrived on the scene of an incident call out, they found emergency services had the situation well in hand. It seemed like a welcome break, until a bystander informed them of a stranded man some distance away who had previously gone unnoticed. Stuck up a tree hundreds of metres from the road, trapped by floodwater, this man had been trapped for hours after his car had been washed away by fast moving flood water that he had driven into. With the floodwaters previously rising to the height he was stuck at, he was in some trouble. Fortunately, Ally and her unit arrived in time to rescue him.
“I wasn’t expecting my second ever flood rescue to be so intense. I wasn’t expecting to be there, and he probably wasn’t either.”
Volunteering with the SES means that Ally has learned about the risks she faces in her local area. As well as the skills to tackle emergency situations, she has learnt how to be vigilant in identifying the warning signs, as well as identifying risks when the immediate danger has passed. She is confident in the skills she has learnt, confident that these skills will help her and her family just as they have the community she has served.
Contact your state’s SES to see how you too can make a difference.