Four seasoned Melton SES volunteers have been recognised for their volunteering efforts.
Nic Gargalakos (Deputy Controller), Rod Fraser (Section Leader), Robert Trott (member) and Wayne Stylianou (Unit Controller) have each responded to over one thousand calls during their time with the unit.
Deputy Controller Karl Sass said SES records are only digitised from 2009 onwards, which meant the men had likely responded to much more, possibly double.
“That’s really just a sign of how much experience…the volunteers bring with them every single time they put on their orange and turn out to another job,” Mr Sass said.
The men were awarded plaques this week with their names and the title of the award ‘Responded to over 1000 incidents’.
“We just thought it was a really important milestone to acknowledge,” Mr Sass said.
The Melton unit, along with the rest of Victoria, had its busiest ever year in 2021 after severe storms and weather caused damage across the state.
The unusually wet and stormy weather has been caused by La Nina, which Mr Sass said “in SES terms is the equivalent of a drought or dry period to fire fighters”.
The June storm event last year prompted over 10,000 call outs across the state. November saw the second busiest storm call out, with 9900 calls.
“So to get two of those in really quick succession has really put pressure on our volunteers, but they’ve also really stepped up,” Mr Sass said.
Another challenge for the SES has been COVID and with some members out of action due to isolating with the virus, Mr Sass said they’ve had to change the way the unit trains.
“We’ve partially moved training online and moved to smaller groups, but really just to make sure we can continue to have both our operational readiness but also our volunteers’ skills the best they can be so we can make sure we’re always ready to respond.”
Looking ahead, Mr Sass urged residents to be up to date with general storm and weather preparedness.
“Getting prepared early really does reduce the impact of all sorts of weather, whether it’s storm damage, fire or flood…there’s been a lot of research to show when people are prepared and they’ve thought about it ahead of time, the impacts are less,” he said.