Nothing beats a hot cup of tea and a biscuit after five years of helping members of the Port Macquarie public during storm emergencies.
NSW State Emergency Services Port Macquarie’s Sandra Smail and Mark Anderson were both recently awarded Five Year Service Awards on June 3.
As part of the award both have received an official Long Service Award certificate and shirt pins.
Smail runs much of the unit’s operations centre as an Operations Officer, while Anderson is a Unit Deputy Officer supporting training officers and performing duty officer roles.
“I grew up in the Riverina where we were in a tornado, there was no SES then and the community rallied around us. This showed me the spirit that a community has in times of emergencies,” said Smail.
“Training is essential and the more qualified the unit is, the better prepared for any contingency.
“We tend to be an extended family and look after each other.”
Mr Anderson said before joining he loved Port Macquarie and simply wanted to contribute back into the community.
“Being able to support people in times of need without the expectation of getting anything in return is real community spirit,” he said.
“I have learnt that people don’t necessarily need to be paid to be highly skilled emergency service operators.
“At our unit we are so fortunate to have great leadership, a supportive professional culture and dedicated volunteers.”
Not all the SES rescues in Port Macquarie have been pleasant for the pair.
“I went out several days for the search for William Tyrell, it was very disappointing not to have a result as I felt I hadn’t finished my job,” said Smail.
“We had a really bad storm on Australia Day a few years back. We had over 80 jobs that day and I did a 11 hour shift, it was very tiring but was very rewarding.
“Even the most traumatic accidents are an opportunity to respectfully help someone, and thankfully the not so pleasant experiences are outweighed by the success stories,” said Anderson.
“In the past five years I’ve been involved in rescuing people from cars, toilets, cliffs, a bathtub, swimming pool plumbing, as well as attending industrial and domestic rescues.”
Despite the challenges along the way both officers said they would be continuing in the SES beyond the five years reached so far.
“I have learnt a lot about myself and SES has shown me how to expand my capabilities beyond what I thought I could achieve,” said Ms Smail.
“It’s very satisfying to see the progress of our new recruits. I’ve certainly gained a lot of skill and confidence that I have been able to transfer to my paid job,” said Mr Anderson.
This article was originally published in the Port News and has been republished here with permission. Please view the original article here: https://bit.ly/2ZdhkEJ