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WOW Day: An interview with Skye Lever from the NSW SES

03 Nov 2014

Busways will be acknowledging the hard work of our State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers by turning orange on November 12th for Wear Orange Wednesday (WOW Day).

The NSW State Emergency Service (SES) is an emergency and rescue service dedicated to assisting the community. It is made up almost entirely of volunteers, with 229 units located throughout NSW.

We took some time out with Skye Lever – a bus driver from the Mulgrave depot and SES volunteer - to learn more about his experiences with the SES and how we can show our support on WOW Day.

What is your role with the NSW SES?

I have been volunteering with the NSW SES for approximately 2 years. I am part of the Hawkesbury Unit situated in the Sydney Western Region.

In addition to ‘rescue’ duties with the SES, I am involved with other activities such as organising uniforms, volunteer recruitment and community engagement. Although it seems like I’m never around at community events such as the Hawkesbury Show or at any fetes, carols and markets, if you come and say hi to a giant platypus (Paddy, the SES mascot), you may just spot me.

Why did you join the SES?

My Dad has been a volunteer with the Hawkesbury Unit for more than 30 years and I wanted to support him, almost like continuing the legacy. We have a number of family groups within our Unit. In addition, I wanted to support the community, having lived in the Hawkesbury my whole life.

What motivates you to volunteer with the SES?

It’s a rewarding feeling to help out in times of need. I’m always challenged and having great new experiences. I’ve also met some great friends along the way.

Do you have any stand out or favourite moments during your time volunteering?

I’ve been lucky to make some great friends in the Unit. One of the fun things I get to do is be Paddy Platypus, the SES mascot. Being able to muck around and have fun with the public, making kids smile and raising awareness is great.

I’ve also had some intense training, including being ‘put through the ringer’ at Penrith Whitewater Stadium. As part of our Flood Rescue training, we are taught to rescue ourselves and others from floodwaters. We have to swim in the fast flooding watercourse, through rapids and obstacles. It’s a fun and challenging course.

What do you find most rewarding about volunteering?

I’m currently training for the Road Crash crew. My phone and pager could go off at any time, day or night, and where possible, I respond and am on the way to the scene within minutes. While this is generally with my private vehicle, I have completed a course which allows me to drive the Rescue truck under lights and sirens. So when I’m rostered to have the truck, I’ll respond in that. I’ve attended a number of road crashes and general rescues. Whilst they can be very confronting, it’s a rewarding feeling to help save lives.

Again, the community engagement side is fun and rewarding too. I remember being thanked by an elderly lady with tears in her eyes because I had helped remove a tree that had fallen on her roof and tarp up the holes. It was a humbling feeling.

How can people show their support on WOW Day?

Our members are volunteers. They give up their time to help others, often risking their own lives. They are outside in all kinds of weather, helping the community day and night, on weekdays, weekends and holidays. Many people often forget these volunteers until they need help. We are very visible in our bright orange overalls and WOW Day is a simple way that the public, by wearing orange, can thank and show support for the more than 12000 SES volunteers. The life they save, may be yours.

Thanks to Busways for jumping so enthusiastically into supporting the SES and WOW Day. The support this year is increasing and has been full embraced.

12 November 2014