The SES will save your bacon in almost any situation – just don’t call them if there’s a fire.
Incoming Moruya SES unit controller Chris Zammit explained. “The difference between the SES and other volunteer organisations is the range of tasks – it’s not just rescues, it’s storms and floods and police assists,” Mr Zammit said. “But we don’t do fires. We probably need to advertise that a bit more.”
Mr Zammit, with outgoing unit controller Jeff McMahon, reflected on nearly six years in the service, at the handover on Saturday, September 1.
The men joined within weeks of each other. Mr Zammit was looking for a hobby, and Mr McMahon was “at a loose end” post-retirement. The SES was just what they were after. “It is a good feeling when you can help someone,” Mr Zammit said. “It’s far better than a high-paid job. It’s a privilege.”
Mr McMahon said pay day for volunteers was a successful rescue. “When you really help somebody, there’s nothing better,” Mr McMahon said. “New recruits don’t necessarily understand, and our mission is to keep them until they get that first ‘pay cheque’.”
Mr McMahon said being in the SES supported the health of volunteers.
“Having a hobby which is worthwhile, and having friendships and people to talk to, particularly for men, is good for your health,” he said. “We talk best when we’re doing something, so on the way to and from a job, that’s when you might open up.”
Mr Zammit agreed volunteering helped people stay healthy – but didn’t take marathon-levels of fitness. “The secret to life is to be fit and healthy enough to do what you want,” Mr Zammit said. “You don’t need to be Ironman – it’s not extremely physically demanding. We work as a team, so we share the load.”
Mr Zammit was excited to step up as unit controller. “Jeff and I ... inherited the controllership three years ago, and shared the responsibility, with Jeff (as) controller and me as deputy,” he said. “It’s running a small business, only with volunteers. You need to make sure everyone is happy.”
Mr McMahon is looking forward to spending more time travelling and fishing.