A crisis can happen at any time – whether it be an accident or a natural disaster – and when it does, it’s good to know there’s someone ready to jump into action.
Department of Human Service’s staff member Jordan Lanigan has been a volunteer for the Morwell Unit of Victoria’s State Emergency Service (SES), which responds to up to 550 incidents in the Gippsland area each year.
Jordan first became interested in joining the SES after talking to someone who also happened to volunteer.
“I decided to start volunteering with the SES because I wanted to learn how to save someone’s life should I ever be faced with that situation,” he said.
“Our local SES unit deals with lots of car accidents and it struck me that this was something I might come across at some point in my life, and I wanted to be able to help if I did.”
With the Gippsland SES team dealing with many different kinds of emergencies, from vehicle and industrial accidents to searches and natural disasters, it’s important that volunteers are available to respond at a moment’s notice, sometimes during work hours.
“As volunteers we carry pagers that provide us with critical information when an incident occurs, such as location, type of incident and any other important information provided when the person called 000,” he said.
“As an organisation we have to be available 24/7 every day of the year, but all our volunteers are from different backgrounds with varying levels of availability.
“We check availability daily to ensure that every hour of every day, a rescue vehicle and crew are able to respond, but there’s also an understanding within our membership that if you are available and able to, you respond.
“Some employers, like our department, are very understanding and support their community by allowing volunteers to respond to emergencies during work hours.”
For Jordan, one of the highlights of volunteering with the SES is the practical skills he has learnt.
“I’ve had to learn how to drive trucks and 4 Wheel Drives, abseil and use a chainsaw just to name a few,” he said.
“I’ve learnt some really valuable life skills too, like time stress management and how to communicate better. I’ve also had the opportunity to travel internationally to represent SES Victoria in rescue competitions.”
However, volunteering in emergency situations has its obvious challenges as well.
“In my 13 years, there have been many difficult times,” he said.
“The hardest call-outs often involve an innocent person who has just been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Those situations have an impact on everyone attending.”
Despite the emotional toll Jordan feels the work they do is so important that it is worth it.
“We all join to make a difference, and we do, so we endure the difficult times,” he said.
“We often attend incidents where someone is experiencing the most traumatic event of their lives and knowing that our involvement might ease that trauma or even save their life is a feeling like no other.”
When asked if he would recommend volunteering to others, the answer is absolutely yes.
“The best part of being a volunteer for the SES is knowing that I am giving back to the community, even when I’m not in my orange overalls. I’ve been able to use my SES training to assist staff at work as a First Aid Officer and also when I’ve been out with family or friends in social situations and someone has needed help,” he said.
“I would absolutely recommend volunteering to everyone. We all have the ability to give back. It might not be with an emergency service, but there is something for everyone and every little bit we do helps strengthen and support the community.”
- Read more about National Volunteer Week