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More than a helping hand.

Celebrating 50 years of service, now is the perfect time to show the Moe SES support!

Aug 24, 2021

Words: Gippslandia
Images: Liam Durkin

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“Someone who is keen to help their community, while developing their own skills to become an efficient operational member.”

These are the boxes that need ticking if you’re looking to join the Moe SES crew, explains Deputy Unit Controller Lisa May, adding, “they would need to have the time to dedicate to weekly training and operational events that require immediate response.”

While she doesn’t need to say it, her sentiment coming through clearly in her responses, Lisa shares, “The Moe unit has a very special place in my heart.”

“The Moe unit has a very special place in my heart."

Now is the perfect time to show the Moe SES crew how much they mean to our community too, as they’ve been assisting us for 50 years!

Forming from Moe Civil Defence in 1971, their dedication and service to the community is incredibly admirable. Amazingly, and it speaks volumes to the unit’s wonderful camaraderie, Ted Allchin has been involved since the very beginning and he’s still a regular attendee of training.

Reminiscing over the changes that the unit, and the SES, have seen over the past half-century, Lisa shared that, “Many advances have occurred [due to new technology], such as the implementation of Emergency Vehicle Status (lights and sirens), new radio and paging systems.

“While there have been many changes and upgrades to equipment over the years, it’s in the last decade or so that we have seen some exciting products start to come through the doors, such as inspection cameras, domestic rescue kits, hydraulic lift kits and a mule wheel, just to name a few, the mule wheel being a transportation device to carry patients on stretchers and wheel them comfortably out of bushland or steep terrain.

“The Moe unit has also embraced greater diversity, such as celebrating a large percentage of the unit being female and, in addition, female leaders.”

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Moe SES unit controller, Brad Henry demonstrates the jaws of life. Photograph // Liam Durkin
Moe SES unit controller, Brad Henry demonstrates the jaws of life. Photograph // Liam Durkin

Positive change and innovation are aspects that the Moe unit has been an active leader in. For example, the ‘Driver Reviver’ concept started at Moe Unit and was known as ‘Operation Coffee Break’ before it became a national road safety program to help reduce the road toll. Steve Wandmaker thought up the idea; he is the son of Herb Wandmaker, the first controller for Moe Civil Defence.

Out of frustration over the carnage on our highways, Steve thought that they could become more visible to the traveling public. He put forward an idea to line the Princes Highway from Melbourne to East Gippsland as best they could over holiday weekends, with orange-overalled SES volunteers, and it was a great success.

Initially, the unit had signs out and lights flashing, which made people more aware of the dangers and the environment they were heading into on their holidays.

The next year, Steve suggested they set up stopovers to encourage people to stop and take a break on their journey. The team hit up suppliers for coffee and tea and the whole thing grew into Operation Coffee Break. Pretty cool, right?

The passion to best serve the community continues with AAMI providing more up-to-date equipment to the unit early this year. AAMI has been the Principal Community Partner of VICSES for over 18 years. During this time they’ve donated more than $9 million toward VICSES community engagement, education and resilience programs, and essential equipment. Access to this valuable support has allowed the Moe unit to purchase a defibrillator, a remote lighting system, a spinal board, flares, a pole saw for branch cutting, and much more.

Which leaves us to ask: how can our community best support the SES?

“Our community can continuously educate those around us about who the SES are and what we do. Our Facebook page offers severe weather warnings, education on being prepared during storm season, and information on where we’ll bewhen we get out and about within the community.”

Will do, Lisa. Will do. Don’t forget this, people:, and please support the approximately 500 VICSES volunteers right across Gippsland.

Gippslandia - Issue No. 19

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