Opinion

Hats off to our rescue team

by
September 13, 2017

Shepparton Search and Rescue volunteers remove debris from storm damage on River Road in March.

Every country town has a volunteer base which contributes hours of invaluable unpaid service — from Lions clubs and CFA units to Meals on Wheels and hospital auxiliaries.

For 45 years, Shepparton Search and Rescue members have delivered a vital service to our community, which deserves our thanks and respect.

Ordinary men and women who give up their time to help others during extreme weather events or traumatic vehicle crashes are a remarkable breed and we applaud them.

For nearly half a century, SS&R members have pulled people from cars, flooded homes and rivers and helped clear up afterwards. They have given up their evenings and weekends or recreation time with families to help others in distress expecting nothing in return except perhaps a warm handshake and a hot drink.

Remarkably, SS&R was self-funded for the first 20 years of its existence.

In 1992, Shepparton council decided to contribute $600 a year to the group. The volunteers had to wait until 2006 to receive any Victorian Government funding.

They have grown from a small team which met at members’ houses, ran raffles to buy equipment and drove an old Ford transit van.

Today, Shepparton Search and Rescue is a properly equipped, highly skilled and efficient group of men and women.

In 1978, Shepparton members became the first regional emergency service to use the Jaws of Life to extract victims from vehicles involved in road crashes.

In another example of selfless dedication, members fundraised and bought the hydraulic rescue tool from America. Incredibly, it took more than 25 years for the group to be recognised under the state emergency management act.

Members battled government red tape for permission to use red and blue lights to get through traffic when attending emergencies.

As Shepparton has grown, the need for a local rescue service has become more evident. During the years, Shepparton Search and Rescue has avoided any push to merge with the SES or CFA.

It is a proudly independent group, built on an invaluable network of local knowledge and skills.

It exists today as an efficient and vital link in the city’s armour in times of disaster and trauma and we pay tribute to the dedication of its members.

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