SES a McCormack family tradition

An SES volunteer learns how to rescue an animal.
An SES volunteer learns how to rescue an animal. Eliot Cohen

BEING involved in the SES is a family tradition for Jim McCormack.

Jim's father was the controller for Woodburn and Jim fondly remembers the family home, "often filled with fellow SES team members - and when they weren't visiting, my dad was on the phone, dealing with some issue or another for them. I didn't plan on following in my father's footsteps but I did, I ended up the controller at Woodburn after Dad passed on."

An SES volunteer learns how to rescue an animal.
An SES volunteer learns how to rescue an animal. Eliot Cohen

One of the worst storm emergencies Jim recalls was the Woodburn storm on November 17 in 2012. "It was the biggest storm I have ever experienced," says Jim. "There were about three houses totally demolished and dozens of roofs ripped from houses. The wind, rain and lightning were like nothing else I have ever experienced."

As we head into storm season, Jim advises home owners to get their house in order. "Clear around your home and don't leave loose items in your yard. It's also important to clear your gutters regularly."

According to Jim about 90% of leaking roofs are due to lack of home maintenance. "Now is the time to prepare, before the storm season starts," explains Jim.

If there is a storm, Jim suggests "Staying indoors, away from windows, especially if there is hail or strong winds - and make sure you look after any kids and pets that are in your care. Another thing to remember is you need to wait until the storm passes before you head outside."

The SES responds to all manner of emergencies 24 hours a day. "For instance if a tree down comes down on your house or it is blocking access, that's when you need to call 1325000 for assistance," he said.

For Jim personally, there are many benefits being a team member of the SES. "There are skills that you can learn that you wouldn't get to do anywhere else that I know of, plus the other great thing is you make great friends."

This was one of the motivations for Jim to follow in his father's footsteps. "What I especially enjoy is meeting people from all walks of life."

Dealing with emergencies can take its toll on SES members as Jim points out.

"I have been on the scene at some horrific accidents on the Pacific Highway, but we learn to put our feeling aside at the time. We then deal with it by talking about the incident, either with team members or family, plus there is also counselling available."

* This report appeared as part of an advertising feature in today's Northern Star

Topics:  natural disasters ses state emergency service

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