NEW RECRUITS: The Ballina State Emergency Service has 23 new recruits following a  drive, which has pleased local unit controller Gerry Burnage (pictured, back right, with some of the new volunteers).
NEW RECRUITS: The Ballina State Emergency Service has 23 new recruits following a drive, which has pleased local unit controller Gerry Burnage (pictured, back right, with some of the new volunteers).

SES open day success

THE Ballina State Emergency Service Unit has 23 new recruits – the most unit controller Gerry Burnage has seen at one time by far in his 27 years’ service with the Ballina SES.


He said it was 'heartening’ for the volunteer unit’s ranks to be bolstered in such a significant way – there were now about 60 members – at a time when volunteering generally was in decline.


“This will mean less pressure on existing members,” he said.


“And it will mean our community helping the community rather than relying on outside help.”


Mr Burnage said the two high-exposure natural disasters in the shire in the past two years – the storm of May 2009 and the Lennox Head tornado in June this year – probably contributed to the current influx of volunteers as both events also raised the profile of the SES.


“There was orange (the colour of SES overalls) everywhere,” he said.


The recruiting campaign began back in October when an open day was held.


That event was promoted through the Advocate. Mr Burnage said the majority of the new recruits knew of the recruiting drive because of the Advocate article.


He said there was a good cross section of ages among the new recruits – most would be trained in field work, while others have elected to work in administrative roles.


And about half the new recruits were women.


Chairmaine Robinson, from Skennars Head, has signed up with her husband, George.


She said she simply wanted to ‘help when help is needed’.


“We’re loving it and can recommend it,” she said.


William Wright, from Ballina, said he was ‘from the bush’ where people wanted to help each other out and he wanted to ‘put something back into the community’.


The recruits were now in training and were expected to be qualified for general rescue work by March next year.
 

Anyone else interested in joining the SES can find out more by phoning 6626 8655.


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