Close to their hearts
SES throws everything at search for toddler
THEY are the volunteer heroes covered from head to toe in bright orange – and they refused to give up in the search for a toddler who went missing from her Childers home.
For two days, Childers SES crews, together with other crews from throughout the Wide Bay district, meticulously scoured nearby bushland and cane fields in the hope of finding the three-year-old alive and well.
Training officer Elise Cottam said 18 members of her team had been involved in the search, and she talked of their “overwhelming” relief when she was found.
“We got a call in the early hours of the morning to say she’d been found. I personally just remember getting shivers all over me and thinking, ‘thank Christ she’s all right’,” Mrs Cottam said.
“It’s a very overwhelming feeling, particularly that she showed up in the showgrounds.”
The experienced emergency services volunteer said the situation was particularly close to their hearts because many members had children or grandchildren, which fuelled their determination to find the child in good health.
“It’s something close to home,” she said.
“I’ve got young grandkids around (the girl’s) age. You always put that aside and stay focused, but when it’s at the end, it’s a big relief.”
Mrs Cottam expressed her gratitude to her team for their dedication and said many members were weary by Friday due to the effort they had put into the task.
“I’m very proud of the Childers team for the way they held themselves and how they continued to work with the police and other volunteers,” she said.
“One guy, Kevin Seng, gave up two days of full-time work, and he was extremely resourceful in leading and co-ordinating the teams with John (Cottam, Childers SES team leader).”
“For a lot of these guys, it was the first major event in Childers. It was a big eye opener for them.”
Mrs Cottam said her crew was also in awe of the police.
“I feel quite confident in the fact that if any of my children or grandchildren went missing, I could rely on them. They weren’t stopping until she was found,” she said.
Mrs Cottam said the experience allowed her team to fill some gaps in training that they could now assess to enhance their skills.
JOB WELL DONE: State Emergency Services workers are relieved in the return of the missing toddler, after searching for 42 hours.