Seymour State Emergency Service unit is on the lookout for new members after COVID-19 stopped the unit from recruiting over the past few months.
While the aftermath of the bushfires that raged through northern and south-east Victoria drove recruitment earlier in the year, the coronavirus pandemic put a stop to that.
The unit currently has just a handful of full-time members who are available to turn out frequently on its books.
Seymour SES unit controller Christine Welsh said while it had quite a few members, many were unable to turn out as often as she would like, due to work commitments.
Ms Welsh said she would like to have 35 full-time members in the unit.
“As you saw from the Will Callaghan search, we were up searching for him as well so things like that, it brings it home to the local community,” she said.
“It’s not very far from us and having members to be able to attend things like that, it’s very important.”
There are positions and jobs available for people of any age and ability in the SES, from road rescue to administration.
Ms Welsh said the unit was looking for volunteers to fill multiple roles.
“A lot of people join for the road rescue aspect but there are so many other different options. There’s administration, support, communications; there are so many other things that people could do – they don’t have to do just the road rescue type of things,” she said.
“Road rescue’s a big one we need. Chainsaw operators, four-wheel-drive operators, pretty much every area. Boating definitely is a huge gap at the moment,” she said.
After visiting the unit, recruits need 100 points of identification, a police check and working-with-children check before starting three months’ probation and turning out after completing online courses in general rescue and first aid.
“Initially a little bit of training is involved. It’s what you can put in as well and we’re really flexible about working around people’s schedules, but general rescue and first aid will get you on the trucks,” Ms Welsh said.
“It’s not just old people, that’s for sure. We’re actually quite a young unit here. Don’t think you can’t, because there’s a role for everyone.”
Seymour SES members meet on Thursday nights for training from 7pm and practice all tasks from road rescues to navigation.
Ms Welsh said the most rewarding thing about being a SES member was being able to help people.
“It’s a cliché but it’s true. We wouldn’t do it if we didn’t want to help people,” she said.