SES sends out an SOS for more members

BY day, an SES volunteer may sit in front of a computer for eight hours grappling with obscure points of law, but by night they pull on their orange overalls and are on call to any crisis, from car accidents to storms or floods.

At the Knox SES unit, among those 40 volunteers on call for seven days every three weeks are a young lawyer and funeral industry worker.

They are often on standby — day and night — to clean up storm damage, rescue people from accidents and prepare homes for flooding.

The Knox SES has an urgent call out for more volunteers to help serve the community.

Emily Stubbs, a 24-year-old lawyer of Knoxfield, first donned the distinctive orange overalls three years ago. She said she enjoyed the diversity of the "hands-on" volunteer work.

"I like making a difference in people's houses, to see how grateful they are that you saved their pride, their home. That's really rewarding," Ms Stubbs said.

For Knoxfield funeral director's assistant Paul Keddell, his 20 years as an SES volunteer helped him live out a boyhood dream.

During 2000, the helicopter-loving volunteer took part in a four-day search — with two days airborne in a chopper — over rugged, mountainous areas.

While SES volunteers can sometimes face horrific scenes or even death, Mr Keddell said it was less confronting than his paid job.

"The SES is easier because you don't meet the families, but in funeral work that's what it is all about," he said. "But I do like the jobs with a happy ending."

There are three teams on rotation at the organisation and during that time, a volunteer's social life may not be as active as usual — but Ms Stubbs said there were plenty of ways around it.

"I plan my social life around it and I can swap if I need to," Ms Stubbs said.

While Mr Keddell admitted to struggling with scaling back his social life, he said it was worthwhile.

"I really do enjoy it — I get a lot out of it by helping people, and I get to blow off a bit of steam, train with the team and have fun," he said.

For people interested in volunteering at the SES, an information night will be held on Wednesday next week at 102 Lewis Road, Wantirna South from 7.30pm. Details: Craig on 0450 730 491 or Leanne on 0418 122 087.

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