The Mirror News

A great year for Foster SES Unit

• Foster SES Unit members demonstrating some of the different types of equipment they use during the course of their duties.  Bernard Cashin is wearing the Safe Working At Heights (rooftop) harness and rope, Rachael Nicolson demonstrates casualty handling with the stretcher, Toni Castellan is ready for a land search with the hiking pack and radio, and Ross West is fully prepared for safe chainsaw operations with the chainsaw and chaps.

The Foster State Emergency Service (SES) Unit certainly had a great year in 2019/2020 according to a snapshot of activities and achievements proudly posted on its Facebook page.

The statistics featured in the post show that the Unit responded to 167 requests for help, welcomed four new members, and clocked up more than 1000 hours of volunteer service and effort during the year.

Foster SES acting controller Rachael Nicolson said she “couldn’t be prouder of the Unit and its members, and the financial year just gone has been our busiest in a decade!

“The Foster SES is one of the oldest SES units in Victoria and was first founded in 1949, and so last year we celebrated its 70th anniversary,” she said.

“We’re here to help people throughout the Corner Inlet district and beyond, including the communities of Foster, Fish Creek, Stony Creek, Dumbalk, Port Franklin, Port Welshpool, Welshpool, Sandy Point, Wilsons Prom, Yanakie, Walkerville and all points in between.

“We also work with our neighbouring SES units at Leongatha, Yarram and Wonthaggi, and we’ll travel further afield, to far-east Gippsland, Baw Baw or even to Melbourne if we’re needed to assist in a large-scale search for example,” Racheal said.

“For the past several years the Foster SES Unit has had a steady membership of between 12 and 15, and currently we have a balanced mix of 12 male and female members who range in age from their early-20s through to over 70.

“We’re always happy to accept more volunteer members though, and we’re actually actively recruiting during July and August with basic SES skills training courses scheduled to begin soon.”

Rachael said most of the callouts the Unit receives are storm-related, including clearing trees that have fallen down over roads, or are blocking access to private properties, or have landed on buildings.

“The recent hailstorm in Foster caused damage to a skylight in the roof of a shop in Main Street and the SES was asked to attend to block up the holes,” she said.

“We respond to incidents that often accompany storms such as flash flooding as well.

“SES units also assist other emergency services like Victoria Police and Ambulance Victoria, including taking part in searches for missing people and providing back-up at crime scenes, and helping ambulance officers with patient carry-outs,” Rachael said.

“The figure of 1000-plus volunteer hours mentioned in our snapshot is possibly on the conservative side and it includes all of our call-outs, skills training and equipment maintenance, as well as various public relations events.

“State-wide, the SES is funded by the Victorian Government and the organisation also receives a generous sponsorship from its partner AAMI, which helps to provide a lot of equipment.

“The Foster SES Unit gets a lot of local support, too, and we really appreciate the donations that are placed in our collection helmets in a number of places like the Exchange Hotel in Foster, Foster Golf Club, Foster Cellarbrations, Foster Foodworks and Foster BP Truckstop service station,” she said.

“Prospective SES members are required to fill in an application form and agree to a police check before undertaking the basic SES training during their probationary period.

“Then the SES offers further training and development courses in a whole range of practical skills, like first aid and patient handling, chainsaw operations, working safely at heights with ladders and ropes, using fire extinguishers, storm and flood response, land-based missing person searches, and urban search and rescue, among many others,” Rachael said.

“All SES members are encouraged to branch out and add to their skills for the benefit of the community and to be part of a strong and effective team.”

For more information about joining the Foster SES Unit and to register an interest visit www.ses.vic.
gov.au/volunteer or look for Foster SES Unit on Facebook or send an email to foster@ses.vic.gov.au.

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