THE new Tenterfield State Emergency Service (SES) rescue vehicle is a community outcome according to Member for Northern Tablelands Richard Torbay who ceremoniously handed over the keys to local controller Rob Searle on Monday.
Mr Searle said the dual-cab Isuzu was the new state standard for road crash rescue response vehicles and would be common in Sydney-based units and larger centres. The Tenterfield unit had the opportunity to apply for an $80,000 state grant which, when combined with $25,000 from the Tenterfield Shire Council, allowed it to secure the vehicle.
The SES will now spend up to $10,000 to fit it out.
Mr Searle, a 19-year veteran of the service said he had seen many changes during his time.
When he joined, the unit was located in a double garage out the back of the electricity commission power house near the railway station, until the electricity commission found out.The unit then moved across the road into the railway bus shed until the council purchased its current site off Western Boundary Street.
The purchase spurred local fundraising activities with the council matching each dollar raised, resulting in the construction of the complex.
The new Isuzu is the unit’s third rescue truck. It can carry six volunteers, makes the equipment more accessible, and is able to achieve signed speed limits.
“Drivers used to pull over to let us pass in the town area, and then have to overtake us when we were out on the highway,” Mr Searle said.
Mr Searle said the unit received fantastic support from the council.
“Every time I have called any department within council, I have been treated with phenomenal respect and every member of council has been a huge help with any request I had,” Mr Searle said.
Council was well represented at the ceremony, with general manager Lotta Jackson in attendance along with mayor Toby Smith and Councillor Lucy Sullivan. Representatives of other local emergency services were also on hand to celebrate the upgrade, along with volunteer members of the Tenterfield SES.
Mr Torbay said the SES provided a first-rate response during the Tenterfield floods,
“We do things differently in the bush,” Mr Torbay said,
“When the SES is responding here it’s responding to neighbours, friends and its community. We should never take for granted what community means.”
Mr Torbay expressed concern that volunteers may be put off by an increasing environment of litigation pressure.
“We must make sure that the spirit of volunteerism is not lost under the threat of litigation,” he said.
While the unit currently has 16 volunteers on its books, Mr Searle said they are always looking for more. There are many benefits including nationally-recognised training and opportunities to train and compete with members from other areas, with no out-of-pocket expense.
The SES is anticipating a busy period with the approaching storm season and will be undertaking flood boat and storm damage training. Search and rescue operations in Bald Rock and Boonoo Boonoo National Parks are not as frequent as they once were, with National Parks taking measures to contain visitors to designated areas.
“Road crashes, of course, can happen any time,” Mr Searle said.