PEOPLE are encouraged to wear orange on Wednesday to show support for State Emergency Service volunteers.
Kinross resident Raelee Heath (20) is one of about 2000 SES volunteers in WA, having joined the Wanneroo-Joondalup SES unit in 2015.
She had already spent five years with the Quinns Rocks Emergency Service Cadets in Clarkson, where she learned a range of skills.
“I learnt a lot from those years including knots, survival techniques, first aid, radio communication, map reading and other things,” she said.
Miss Heath said one of the more extreme searches she has been involved in since joining the SES unit started last December in Muchea.
“We searched in 40-plus degree heat over about two weeks,” she said.
“Many different units attended and lots of different volunteers gave up their time to help where they could.
“Most days we were on site at 8am and would search throughout the day until about 5 or 6pm.
“Other members of my unit have all been on call outs that are much more extreme due to their abundance of years and experience.
“Call outs range from easy jobs that take a couple of minutes to searches and storm damages that can last for days or even weeks sometimes.”
Miss Heath said while it could be tough on a search sometimes, the team support kept her focus on people needing help.
“Keeping in mind that you’re making someone’s day better or possibly protecting or saving someone’s life really helps to stay positive and keep doing whatever you can,” she said.
The former Quinns Baptist College student is now studying journalism at Curtin University and is a Department of Sport at Recreation instructor at Ern Halliday Recreation Camp in Hillarys.
She said the aspect she enjoyed most was vertical rescue, which involved fortnightly training.
“I love working at heights and learning all I can about rope rescue both at work and at SES,” she said.
“I help out on most vertical rescue courses when I can and train regularly on fortnightly Monday nights.
“I’ve learned lots of valuable things; my skills have really improved when it comes to working as part of a team and putting others first.
“I’d encourage anyone to volunteer; it doesn’t matter what organisation you join, whether it be St Johns, the Bush Fire Brigade or the SES, volunteering has got to be one of the most rewarding things you can do.
“It definitely has its tough moments but you get so much more out of it.”
Wear Orange Wednesday, or WOW Day, on May 10 encourages people to wear the SES uniform colour to support volunteers.
More information at www.wearorangewednesday.com.au/wa.