The heroes that keep us ticking

Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm (standing, second from right) with volunteers Samantha Unstead, Simon Wilkinson, Hazel Darkin and David Patterson and (seated) Ken Blackie and Nicole (Nikki) Woods.
Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm (standing, second from right) with volunteers Samantha Unstead, Simon Wilkinson, Hazel Darkin and David Patterson and (seated) Ken Blackie and Nicole (Nikki) Woods.

In the first of an occasional series, Department of Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm pays tribute to the volunteers who make a real difference through their selfless service.

THIS month marks National Volunteer Week (May 20-26), with this year’s theme “making a world of difference”.

What more difference could you make than saving a life?

Putting your hand up as an emergency services volunteer could be one of the most worthy contributions you make to the community.

From the State Emergency Service to the Volunteer Marine Rescue Service and the various firefighting services, they all provide invaluable assistance, often being the first responders in regional and rural areas.

The 26,000 emergency services volunteers spread across WA are ready to respond day and night. Whether it’s a blistering 42C or wet and windy, they are ready to help their fellow West Australians in times of disaster.

Our volunteer community has some great characters – such as Shirley Oliver, who has been a part of the Baldivis Volunteer Fire and Emergency Service brigade for 30 years.

Her dedication has resulted in her being nominated for the WA People’s Choice Spirit of Volunteering gong in this year’s Volunteering WA Awards.

With her husband Graeme, her brother and two nephews involved in the Baldivis Brigade, it was only a matter of time before she got the volunteering ‘bug’, joining in 1989.

Now a 4th Lieutenant in the brigade, Shirley is the Incident Control Vehicle team leader (the Incident Control Vehicle is called out for major incidents) in a brigade that brings together volunteers from all walks of life – from plumbers to mortgage brokers and even a submarine worker, ranging from teenagers to retirees.

Volunteering in emergency services doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be in the thick of things on the frontline. A huge range of roles is available across all the volunteer services, from communications to logistics, administration, community education and more.

Volunteering is also a two-way street.

While you may be giving up your time (a minimum of three hours a week for a base level responder) you will, at the same time, learn many new skills and make life-long friends in the process.

Volunteering fosters teamwork and leadership, adaptability and quick thinking – all attributes that are greatly appreciated by prospective employers.

A new website just launched by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) – essentially a jobs board for volunteer positions – is a great place to get involved.
Go on, give volunteering a try. You won’t regret it. Not only will you be helping fellow West Aussies in times of need, it will be a personally enriching experience.