Call for volunteers

THE NSW SES Kiama Unit has called on the community to don the orange overalls.

The State Emergency Service is an emergency and rescue service made up almost entirely of volunteers, with more than 230 units located throughout NSW.

While their major responsibilities are for flood, storm and tsunami operations, the SES also provides the majority of general rescue efforts in rural parts of the state.

This includes road crash, and vertical rescues, bush search and rescue and other forms of specialist rescue.

The service's trained rescuers also support full-time emergency services during major disasters.

One of the Kiama unit's recent recruits, 19-year-old Emily Hayward was inspired to join last August after the tornadoes devastated the area.

"I initially joined for operations, but then went on the boats in Minnamurra and got a taste of rescue, it was awesome," the Gerringong resident said.

"I wanted to do something in the community through volunteering.

"I looked into SES after the tornado.

"They needed operations people, which is kind of what I'm doing at uni, and the SES has industry recognised training."

Ms Hayward said there were a few other members of the Kiama Unit about her age.

She enjoyed getting to know other volunteers.

"Getting to hear their stories, so many stories of saving people," she said.

"I'm just starting training now in stormwater rescue and learning how to identify hazards at the moment.

"It's an opportunity to learn from the older ones."

The Kiama Unit's deputy local controller Chris Warren has volunteered with the organisation for 30-plus years.

He said memorable moments included the Kiama tornadoes, out-of-area operations such as Sydney hail-storms, partaking in competitions and training in New Zealand in 2005, and Kiama representing NSW in the National Disaster Rescue Competition a few years ago.

Mr Warren said the unit's 30 to 40 active members hailed from all walks of life.

He said SES had two streams of voluntary work, operations/administration and rescue.

"Even if you can't climb up a roof, you can help in areas like admin," he said.

"We're a registered training organisation, and can train all our members in all aspects of what we do."

Mr Warren said the commitment involved training each Tuesday night, as well as potentially assisting with callouts.

"It's a great thing to do for the community," he said.

"We offer really good training that could help you in future careers.

"It's a great organisation, with good camaraderie.

"People who join usually stay for a long time; we have lots of members with 20-plus years' experience."

The Kiama Unit is running a recruitment drive this month, with a view to starting training in April.

You must be at least 18 years old to join.

Anyone interested can phone 132 500 for details.

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