Tatura State Emergency Service unit members Kris Parker and Ashleigh Normington said the most enjoyable part of being with the organisation was the team spirit and camaraderie.
‘‘I love being a part of a group of like-minded volunteers who have the aim to be as good as they can be in their efforts to give back to their local community,’’ Mr Parker said.
Joining the Seymour unit in 2009, Mr Parker has spent about eight years with the service and joined the Tatura unit last year when he moved to the area.
‘‘Coming from a military background, I hoped it would be similar,’’ he said.
Mr Parker said there were indeed familiarities between the two where he was able to contribute greatly through his military skills.
‘‘I have developed a lot of technical rescue skills as well as leadership and mentoring skills,’’ he said.
Qualified in several areas, Mr Parker said he spent three years as Seymour’s unit controller, now finding himself as a general member of the Tatura unit.
Ashleigh Normington also joined the team as a general member last year after seeing an advert on the television regarding the SES.
She said the process of joining the unit had been a welcoming one where members were happy to accommodate Ms Normington’s needs.
‘‘I have a young child and I sometimes struggle to turn out to jobs when my partner is working,’’ she said.
‘‘They were happy with as much or as little of my time as I could volunteer; I was welcome to join even just to attend training at the start.’’
Ms Normington’s time with the unit since has involvedmuch training where she has also observed and helped during storm damage call outs.
‘‘I was so excited when the pager went off; I couldn’t wait to help, and I loved working as a team to help the community,’’ she said.
Ms Normington said a strong desire to give back to the community was required for those considering joining the organisation.
‘‘There are so many different roles you can choose to do: storms, road accidents, roof tops, land searches or even administration; there’s something for everyone,’’ she said.
Mr Parker said it was important for members to be kind, caring, have a sense of community spirit and understand what it meant to be selfless.
‘‘They should look beyond volunteering itself; being a member of the SES becomes a lifestyle,’’ he said.
And for Mr Parker, volunteering for the organisation led to a casual career opportunity he said he had only ever dreamed of.
‘‘I have been lucky enough to see my volunteer career carry me to a point where I am employed on a casual basis by a well-respected rescue tool manufacturer in Holland to travel the world and deliver road-rescue training to fire brigades, military and ancillary rescue squads,’’ he said.
‘‘This has been a highlight of my volunteer career and I aim to do that in the future.”
The pair encouraged others to join the unit.
‘‘I have met some great people and learnt a lot in my short time of being within the Tatura SES,’’ Ms Normington said.
‘‘I feel really proud when I tell people I volunteer for the State Emergency Service.’’
There are a variety of ways people can enquire or join up to the service.
Anyone can attend the weekly unit meetings on Monday evenings from 7 pm at the unit headquarters on Martin St; visit the unit’s Facebook page; email firstname.lastname@example.org or; visit www.ses.vic.gov.au and click on the volunteer tab on the left hand side of the page.
‘‘Get out there and provide that invaluable assistance to your local community and give as much or as little as you can,’’ Mr Parker said.
‘‘You’ll never regret doing so.’’
Team spirit: Tatura SES unit members Kris Parker and Ashleigh Normington have reflected on their time with the service. Picture: Justin Maskell