Smith re­warded for putting hand up

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - BY DEAN LAW­SON

Des Smith, 54, of Di­a­pur has been fight­ing fires, re­spond­ing to floods, search­ing for miss­ing peo­ple and deal­ing with road trauma and just about any­thing else to do with emer­gency ser­vices since the 1980s.

It is a vol­un­teer ser­vice that has be­come part of life for the fenc­ing con­trac­tor, who also runs a small farm with wife Colleen 16 kilo­me­tres from Nhill.

Dur­ing his many years with the State Emer­gency Ser­vice he has ac­cepted a va­ri­ety of ser­vice-recog­ni­tion awards and now has an Or­der of Aus­tralia Medal, OAM, to add to his col­lec­tion.

Mr Smith said he was shocked to be among Queen’s Birth­day hon­ours re­cip­i­ents on Mon­day and the re­al­i­sa­tion started to sink in as he re­sponded to peo­ple call­ing him with con­grat­u­la­tions.

“The amount of phone calls and sup­port and thank-you mes­sages from col­leagues from right across Aus­tralia has re­ally hit me,” he said.

“I’m very hum­bled to ac­cept the hon­our.

“It’s a big thing – there are a lot of peo­ple who de­serve it and I sup­pose my name has gone into a hat and then come out again. I’m very hon­oured.”

Mr Smith’s ac­co­lade re­flects his com­mit­ment to Nhill dis­trict emer­gency ser­vices.

He has been Nhill unit con­troller of the Vic­to­ria State Emer­gency Ser­vice since 1991 and Dim­boola unit con­troller since 2014.

He has been a vol­un­teer with the ser­vice since 1987.

Mr Smith has been a mem­ber of an or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee of Grampian’s Re­gional An­nual Gen­eral Res­cue Week­end for 10 years and has also been a Vic­to­ria Coun­try Fire Author­ity vol­un­teer with var­i­ous brigades for about 30 years.

His OAM now sits among a 2013 Vic SES Emer­gency Re­cov­ery Award, 10, 15, 20 and 25-year long-ser­vice medals, a Life Mem­ber medal, a 2007 Na­tional Medal and 2014 first clasp.

Mr Smith said more peo­ple needed to vol­un­teer ser­vices for their com­mu­ni­ties.

“With­out vol­un­teer or­gan­i­sa­tions we wouldn’t sur­vive. While we don’t get any fi­nan­cial re­ward and it can be a rocky road, it is also very re­ward­ing,” he said.

“There are ups and downs. The downs are ob­vi­ously deal­ing with fa­tal­i­ties, of­ten in­volv­ing peo­ple we know, and that can be very hard.

“But there are mo­ments of great re­ward such as find­ing miss­ing peo­ple, sav­ing lives or be­ing able to help peo­ple.

“It can be so re­ward­ing when you re­ceive mes­sages of thanks.

“I sup­pose the rea­son why some­one put my name into the hat was that I’ve served for a long time and trained a lot of peo­ple.

“I’ve cre­ated a hell of a lot of friend­ships across Vic­to­ria and in­ter­state.”

Des Smith

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