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Chelsea SES History

Chelsea SES Unit’s history can been traced back to 1953 making it one of the longest, continuous serving units assisting the community for some 56 years.

The lifeblood of any SES unit is its volunteer members and we understand that through work and family commitments as well as ongoing time restraints, that this is a transient population so volunteer recruitment is a continuous programme. History shows that in the weeks and months following a major disaster the number of volunteer enquiries goes up and this was no different following Black Saturday and currently Chelsea SES has an active membership of approx 50 members at various stages from initial training to fully accredited, operational members.

The role of the SES has seen a number of changes over the past 5 years, some very positive and some not so. On the positive side, the level of training and equipment available to members has seen constant improvement with many more specialist courses available. These incorporate lifting the levels of competency of our members but also measures to ensure that every operational member has the equipment and knowledge to complete tasks in a professional and safe way. The less positive side sadly has been the increasing number of jobs to assist VICPOL to protect crime scenes at violent crimes and the wasted lives from road accidents and incidents connected to the railway lines. We cannot choose the type of jobs we are called on to attend; we can simply do the very best job we can when called on to do them. Chelsea SES were thrilled at the news earlier this year that they were to receive a $185,000 medium rescue replacement vehicle through the State Government Budget and then that they would be receiving an additional light rescue vehicle through the generosity of the Bendigo Bank increasing their fleet from 3 to 4 rescue vehicles.   

Another area of work that is ongoing for Chelsea SES is fundraising. Through the generosity of Council, Chelsea SES receives yearly funding and this is topped up in a number of ways by the members themselves. Tin shakes at PR events, major involvement in the IGA Community Benefits Scheme including an annual sign up day at Aspendale Gardens Shopping Centre to ensure a steady pattern of growth by signing more and more people to make Chelsea SES their beneficiary and of course tax deductible donations from members of the community. We have also recently appointed a member of the unit to investigate the possibilities of receiving any applicable grants that may be available.

Chelsea SES was very involved from day 1 in assisting VICPOL and CFA following the devastating fires on Black Saturday in February of this year. On the Sunday crews were dispatched to Whittlesea to assist and in the following days and weeks crews from Chelsea were regularly sent into the affected areas doing the work that they train for. Just prior to the fires members were called in to assist VICPOL in the search for a 4 year old girl who had gone missing following a family outing to Mordialloc Beach. As happens in cases like this where a child is involved, we had a large contingent of volunteers available in very quick time to assist in the search. The little girl was sadly located some hours later, deceased, by a couple of Chelsea volunteer members, the little girl had drowned. The impact that this has on the entire unit cannot be measured and the SES peer support unit were called in to council a number of members. Just recently members were called out in the early hours of the morning following a micro burst that affected the Chelsea Yacht Club by having its roof removed and affecting almost a dozed beach side homes. The job was finished just in time for most members attending to go home, grab a quick shower and then head off to work.

Every operational member of every SES unit understands that they are in a position where at any time their pager can alert them to anything from a minor task to a fully fledged disaster, they must be ready to deal with whatever that job serves up in a professional way and do whatever it takes to assist the community in which they live and work as well as assist other including the fact that Chelsea members assisted with the recent Gippsland floods as well as members going to NSW to assist their interstate colleagues following the devastating storms and floods in and around the Newcastle area. It is sometimes easy to pick one or two jobs that stand out, however, every job that we attend is a major event to the people whose lives and properties are involved and in that sense every job is as important as the one before and the next one that comes in.

Being a member at Chelsea SES is certainly not all doom and gloom and as in any group of people, there are times when funny things happen, and those times when we can laugh at situations are the things that keep you going through the times where we can’t. I recently heard about a unit near Port Douglas in Far North Queensland who following a very heavy, tropical rain storm, were called to home where the garage was flooded. The first members on scene went to investigate and found a 4 Meter crocodile inside that had been happily cruising in the local river that had subsequently burst its banks sending a torrent of water and the croc into the unsuspecting resident’s garage, rangers were called and the croc dispatched with the help of the SES members. We have found some strange things at jobs we have been called to, but thank goodness not quite that strange!  

As a wiser person than me once said regarding volunteers; It’s not that we don’t pay them because they’re worthless; we don’t pay them because they’re priceless, and why do we do what we do, I guess the simple answer is; someone has to!

Last Updated (Monday, 26 October 2009 17:27)