National Youth Week celebrates the contribution young people aged 12-25 make to the Australian community. The NSW State Emergency Service (NSW SES) has more than 1,500 young volunteers just like Armidale Unit rescue operator and NSW Paramedic Intern Shirley Heap.
“I’ve learnt to much in the SES – not just practical things – but also leadership and teamwork skills.
“All excellent life skills I wouldn’t be where I am without.”
Joining straight out of school, Shirley says:
“I remember a couple years earlier there was a lot of flooding across the state and every time I turned on the news there was orange everywhere. I thought it looked like an interesting way to be helpful.”
Shirley is now a Paramedic Intern with NSW Ambulance. She says volunteering with NSW SES made her realise she wanted to help people for a living.
“It was in the SES I realised I enjoyed working in emergency service, so I decided to apply for NSW Ambulance and become a paramedic.”
Shirley is currently working with NSW Ambulance in Western Sydney and is a fully qualified NSW SES trainer.
“I travel back to Armidale to train courses and go out on call outs on my days off. I’malso looking at joining up with a unit in Western Sydney when my work schedule slows down.”
“I consider my unit in Armidale an extended family.
“Not to mention that there is always something new to learn, a new skill to master, a new opportunity.”
Shirley says she has learnt much more in the NSW SES than just practical skills like using a chainsaw or cutting up a car.
“No matter what your career path or situation, you have something to offer the SES and they have something to offer you.”
Shirley is one of 10,000 NSW SES volunteers who are ready to help and support NSW communities to prepare and respond to severe weather events and other emergencies.
They come from all walks of life, bringing with them many different skills, interests and backgrounds.
The NSW State Emergency Service & NSW Rural Fire Youth Service Awards are held in May 2019. These recognise the invaluable contribution of young volunteers to first response agencies, including Cadet of the Year and Young Volunteer of the Year.