Reg to the rescue in Rochy for 33 years
Life membership for our SES stalwart
THIRTY-THREE years ago, a wind storm tore through Rochester, leaving devastation in its path.
And 33 years ago, Reg Ellis answered the community’s call for help. He’s been helping ever since. The dedicated VICSES volunteer was recently honoured for his tireless service, presented with his life membership.
But looking back on that first day back in 1985, Reg said he didn’t even know what lay ahead.
‘‘On the Saturday the big storm hit and I headed over to the SES, just to see if I could help,’’ he said.
‘‘And by the Monday, Pam (one of the original members) came down and signed me up.’’
Suddenly, Reg was a part of the VICSES Rochester Unit, helping with everything from car crashes to felled trees to freeing tiny kittens stuck in drains.
And mostly, he’s been involved in incidents with happy endings.
But sometimes, tragically, that’s not the case.
‘‘All fatalities are tough,’’ he said.
‘‘But someone’s gotta do it. Our main job is preservation of life by assisting to remove people at an accident.
‘‘And I choose to focus on that job, rather than any of the chaos happening around me.’’
Reg can still remember one job, seared into his brain.
An accident had happened just north of town, a two-car collision with one car balancing on its side.
Armed with years of intensive training, Reg and the team worked carefully to cut a girl out of one of the mangled cars.
Once the team finally cut her free, they lifted her out and placed her gently on a stretcher, carrying her to the ambulance.
In excruciating pain, the girl still turned her head and, looking straight at Reg, said two words he’ll never forget: ‘‘thank you’’.
‘‘That’s what it’s all about,’’ he said.
Rochester unit controller Judith Gledhill said Reg was an invaluable member of the team.
‘‘Reg has attended hundreds of operations, including motor vehicle accidents, land searches, and storms and floods, including largescale events within Victoria and interstate,’’ she said.
‘‘He is the self-appointed manager of all small motors within the unit, keeping chainsaws sharp, serviced and ready for use when the need arises.
‘‘He has always been our go-to fix-it or make-it man, whether it be minor items requiring maintenance or if we need a gadget to make a task simpler.
‘‘After the 2010/11 floods, Reg created a sandbag filler out of a traffic cone that we still use to this very day.’’
Reg, together with Rochester’s other life members Ken Major, June Major and Glenn Major, have given a staggering combined total of 135 years’ service to VICSES and the community of Rochester.
Even 33 years down the track, it’s clear Reg still has a deep love for the SES.
A love he hopes to pass on to others in the community.
‘‘This is a really friendly unit, we all work together, everyone looks after each other,’’ he said.
‘‘We’ve also received quite a number of unit achievement awards. When something happens here, all members who are available turn up.
‘‘The town should be honoured to have a unit offering as high quality a service as this one.’’
But he said the unit was always looking for new members. Such as you. ‘‘Anyone who is fit enough can be in the SES,’’ he said.
If you’d like to join, call Judith Gledhill on 0429 845 573.
‘ I choose to focus on that job, rather than any of the chaos happening around me ’ — Reg Ellis
Reg Ellis with his SES life membership.