Ipswich’s new SES Local Controller Emilea Salonen is ready for her first extreme weather season at the head of the city’s ‘Orange Army’.
Emilea Salonen had been a volunteer for quite some time, but when she discovered the SES about three years ago she found the hands-on challenge she had been looking for – and she hasn’t looked back since.
Things that she’d never thought she’d do, like working on a roof or operating a chainsaw, were now part of her skill set alongside her double degree in law and applied science.
“It’s been incredible, I’ve loved every minute of it and revelled in every challenge. It’s been a lot of fun,” she said.
Now she has taken that passion, and her experience working for Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, and applied it to her new role as Ipswich City SES Local Controller leading the city’s volunteers in orange overalls into their peak season.
Even over a relatively mild three months Ipswich City’s SES volunteers give an extraordinary amount of time to the community.
This past quarter they have done 900 operational hours, including missing person and forensic searches, a patient extraction from White Rock – Spring Mountain Conservation Estate, welfare checks following fires at Toogoolawah and responding to 15 storm damage calls for assistance.
That’s on top of 800 hours clocked for things such as maintenance, administration and community education, and about 4000 training hours across the four depots of Ipswich, Goodna, Marburg and Rosewood.
That’s a ‘quiet’ three months for Ipswich City’s SES, with things ramping up towards the end of the year as community events and storms both intensify in frequency.
It’s no coincidence that Get Ready Queensland Week is October 8-14. Now is the time when everyone should be preparing themselves for extreme weather or an emergency.
Ms Salonen said weather in Ipswich can be unpredictable – with a recent mini weather event resulting in 10 storm damage jobs for the SES. This year also has the potential to be a big fire season.
“The nature of what we do (in the SES), we have to always be prepared and we have to always be training. You don’t know when and what is going to happen, it’s always on the edge of your seat a little bit for what might happen and encouraging the community to do the same – not in a fearful respect, but in a knowledgeable respect of what the local risks and hazards are,” she said.
“Get Ready Week is really to encourage people to understand the potential for local risks and hazards, and weather events that might not be in your immediate peripheral, but nevertheless when they catch us off guard it can be quite a terrifying thing.”
There are some things that Ms Salonen said should be high on the agenda for every Ipswich resident – understand and prepare for your local risks including having a plan, prepare your emergency kit, tune into warnings and look after your neighbours.
“You don’t have to chainsaw trees or climb roofs to give them a hand – a knock on the door, making sure they’re all right, is sometimes the best thing you can do,” she said.
Get Ready Queensland Week (October 8-14)
When it comes to extreme weather events in Queensland, it’s not so much a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’. The more prepared we are, the faster we’ll bounce back.
volunteer hours logged by Ipswich SES members in three months
Ipswich City Council has a range of emergency management initiatives – from floods to fires to storm readiness – to ensure our residents are kept informed, updated and safe in the event of an emergency.