The Member for Kiama, Gareth Ward, welcomed the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, David Elliott, and NSW State Emergency Service Commissioner, Carlene York, to Kiama to hand over a $360,000 Medium Rescue Vehicle and a $62,000 Command Vehicle to the our SES Unit.
The vehicles are part of the first batch being delivered under a $56.4 million State Government program to replace the SES’ fleet of vehicles and boats.
Another Kiama truck is going to be replaced with one of the first heavy rescue vehicles being rolled out in Jan/Feb.
Prior to 2012, councils had to fund, build and design any upgrades to the local fleet.
The State Government has taken over those costs, which are funded by the Emergency Services Levy paid by insurers.
In Kiama’s case, Council still owns and provides the facility on Terralong Street, near the entrance to the highway.
A Kiama SES volunteer, Ashley Sullivan, also works for the NSW SES and is the person responsible for the team building and procuring the new vehicles.
“The safety and technology has considerably improved because we have the strategic involvement and procurement expertise,” he says.
“It is a much better solution for the local community than all the councils doing it themselves.”
He says the input of volunteers into the design of their particular vehicles has been invaluable.
“They are being tailor made for the needs of each unit.
“Each type of vehicle has had volunteer input into the design and the positioning of the equipment.”
Minister Elliott is delighted the new fleet is rolling out.
“We have a record budget in the Emergency Services portfolio at the moment so we have actually seen a significant investment into both
the SES, RFS, the Volunteer Rescue Association and Marine Rescue.
“It helps me sleep better at night knowing the capabilities they have at their fingertips are not going to restrict them.”
He says the upgrade will have the added bonus of helping retention rates and attracting new volunteers.
“It is when volunteers think they area not getting the financial resources to back them up in the field, that morale goes low and we don’t attract people.
“As I say, just because you are a volunteer, doesn’t mean you aren’t a professional.”
The vehicles were handover on a day when 550 SES volunteers around the state had been working on 600 call-outs in a 24 hour period.
“The storm season was launched a couple of weeks ago and it goes until mid-March, and the La Nina alert has been declared by the Bureau,” says Commissioner York, who took over the top role a year ago after a 40 year career with NSW Police.
“These new vehicles will be great for the Kiama unit as they are very active with storm and flood rescues.”
She and the Minister was well aware of the Kiama Unit’s excellent reputation, including it winning national championships.
This point was emphasised by the Gareth Ward, saying, “It is the best vehicle for the best unit.”
The Commissioner says the SES is always on the lookout for new volunteers.
“They don’t have to be flood rescue or chainsaw operators – we also have roles for public information officers, in catering and logistics, and
a whole range of things.
Details on what is involved at www.ses.nsw.gov.au/volunteer