09/07/2024 09:46 AM

On Saturday evening, the NSW State Emergency Service (SES) commemorated a significant milestone for the NSW SES Tenterfield Unit as it celebrated 45 years of dedicated service. 

Over the years, the NSW SES Tenterfield Unit has proved essential in supporting the town and surrounding areas during floods, storms and other emergencies such as road crashes. 

NSW SES Acting Commissioner, Debbie Platz APM, proudly attended the anniversary dinner and congratulated the members of the NSW SES Tenterfield Unit on this milestone. 

“Members past and present should be commended for their commitment and service over many years. The dedicated team are pillars of their community.” 

"Their training in road crash rescue, vertical rescue, and various other emergency response has allowed them to successfully save many lives over the last 45 years, and for that they should be incredibly proud,” Commissioner Platz said. 

NSW SES Tenterfield Unit Commander, Caron Miller, recognised the original members of the unit. 

“It’s so important that we acknowledge the members that founded the Tenterfield Unit. There are five original members and most of them were here to celebrate this important milestone,” she said.

The Unit's contributions over the years are exemplified by its members', with a collective of 234 years of service. Among them, Neal O'Reilly who was a founding member and has been active since 1979, alongside esteemed colleagues George Mulherin, John Landers, Rex Holley, and Ian Gibbs, all of whom have also dedicated 45 years to the Unit. 

Mr O’Reilly, who was recognised as a Life Member of the NSW SES, continues to give up his time to the community of Tenterfield. 

“In July, I will have been here for forty-five years. At the moment, I am a volunteer of the Tenterfield Unit, but I have been the Local Commander and Unit Commander in the past,” Mr O’Reilly said. 

Mr O’Reilly said the Tenterfield Unit was established in 1979 in response to a critical need for emergency assistance during road crashes. 

“We had an incident where we struggled to free people from their vehicle for over an hour. On this day, we decided that we needed to come together and form a group of people who were willing to undertake road crash rescue training.” 

“The closest rescue unit was in Glen Innes, which was over an hour away, so there was a need for an SES unit in Tenterfield,” he said. 

Neal makes note of the younger generation coming through the NSW SES and has some advice for them. 

“I would encourage new members to play to their strengths. Work out what you like to do, and then stick to it and build on that interest.” 

"Volunteering with the NSW SES is not just about responding to emergencies. It's about being part of a community, building relationships, and making a difference. I encourage anyone with a passion for helping others to join," he continued. 

Under the leadership of Unit Commander Caron Miller, the team is continuously strengthening its expertise, integrating new members who bring diverse skills and specialised qualifications. 

“We don’t just respond to storm and floods. The NSW SES Tenterfield Unit also undertake Road Crash Rescue, Vertical Rescue and have trained operators in Urban Search and Rescue as well as Industrial and Domestic Rescue,” Ms Miller said. 

“Being situated on the top of the mountain range, during weather events everything comes and goes within about four hours, so we focus more on our road crash rescue response.” 

Caron Miller recounts events where the Tenterfield Unit was on the ground and ready to aid their community. 

“As a unit we assisted when the F-111 aircraft crashed into a field in Tenterfield, and deployed during the 2011 floods when half of the town was under water.”

“At the moment, we have a stable bunch of 21 volunteers, but there is always room for more members within our unit, especially younger members,” she said. 

As part of their ongoing commitment to public safety, the Tenterfield SES Unit continues to play a pivotal role in local disaster response efforts and assisting the community in times of need. 

Media enquiries: NSW SES Media on 1800 067 234.

Tweed Coast Unit - 6 Centennial Drive Pottsville NSW
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