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SES Treated Disgracefully?

By johnboy 12 December 2005 15

The Canberra Times has got a story on a string of complaints about the treatment of volunteers during the storm cleanup.

during the clean-up of the December 2 storm:The ESA did not arrange food for the majority of SES volunteers, despite many of them working overnight shifts of up to 12 hours.SES units were denied safety equipment, such as replacements for broken helmets, protective chainsaw clothing, gloves and goggles.SES volunteers were forced to work in breach of Occupational Health and Safety regulations – such as using chainsaws while standing on ladders – to clear dangerous trees, because the SES did not have a cherry picker.

On top of that they can’t speak publicly anymore for fear of dismissal with no appeal.

(It is a volunteer service guys, if you all walked out they’d have to come to an accomodation surely?)

What’s Your opinion?

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SES Treated Disgracefully?
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bulldog 1:20 pm 14 Dec 05

Nice on Evil; Oh, and speaking of giving your mates jobs; I’d heard that ESA now stands for ‘Ex-Servicemen’s Abode”.

Yes, this all seems a bit out of proportion, but I don’t have a problem with the people of Canberra (albeit through the media) trying to ensure the hogs in HQ look after their staff; volunteers or otherwise. Don’t blame the SES, it will turn out (in typical Canberra fashion), that somebody knows somebody else who works at the paper and hey presto, one persons opinion is flouted as a popular concensus.

Mr Evil 7:39 am 14 Dec 05

You can’t look after the volunteers if you’re too busy getting your mates good jobs in the ESA and making sure you have a nice new uniform every time you’re on tv. 😉

Big Al 11:48 am 13 Dec 05

Thumper, couldn’t have said it better myself – I wish I had your eloquence.

Thumper 11:42 am 13 Dec 05

Actually I will comment.

Overall the operation was a great success. There was an immense amount of damage and the crews in the field did an excellent job with the equipment they had, which was, and is, generally sufficient.

Yes, a cherry picker would be handy in a lot of situations but we are trained to deal with those situations in other ways and cherry pickers are not cheap. Supplying one to every unit would be simply an overkill.

As for the food, it was an unfortunate oversight and a minor inconvenience that I doubt will happen again. One needs to remember that when you have crews out at all hours all over the city it can often be difficult to get them all into a central point for a feed at a specific time. As I said, it was an oversight that will be noted and acted upon.

The article itself is a little sensationalised given that it was published not long after the coverage of the storm damage so it needs to be taken in that context.

No-one is denying that things can be done better and more efficiently, but these are the things you learn during such an event. Indeed, you learn more in the field than you do at training and there are plenty of old stagers who know every trick in the book to learn things from.

Any issues volunteers may have can be later passed up the chain of command so that they can be raised in the appropriate forum.

All the people involved, including RFS, Urbans, etc, did a good job over a long period of time in often dangerous situations. No-one can be critical of that.

And, as I mentioned, lessons will have been learnt and will be acted upon in the future and this ensures that the SES remain at a high skill level and can respond to events such as this.

There endeth the sermon.

Thumper 11:34 am 13 Dec 05

I’m not even going to comment on Al’s comments.

As for the article, it’s appears a bit of a beat up and pretty disappointing to read. Slow news day?

johnboy 11:08 am 13 Dec 05

“All this”

Yes because, like tinkerbell, we’re incapable of holding more than one feeling at a time.

Is it the biggest issue in the world? No.

Is it an important local issue if SES units used to have the ability to feed themselves and it got moved to an HQ responsibility which then dropped the ball?

Why yes, yes that is an issue worthy of some consideration on local news forums.

I’ll leave Al to others, I’m appalled but nothing suprises me anymore.

Big Al 11:01 am 13 Dec 05

What a load of whiney shit! Hungry? Then go and get something to eat you dumb-arse. It makes me sick that these people can try and laude their volunteer status over the rest of the community, and we have to put up with this whingy bullshit – because why – oh they’re the friggin good Samaritans from the SES.

And another thing – what’s this crap about being “forced” to use unsafe equipment or to breech OH&S requirements – bullshit. I will bet that no one can come up with a scrap of evidence to prove that anyone was forced to do anything of the sort – sure, this being the SES, by definition, there’s going to be a lot of hero wannabe’s prepared to go the extra yard in pursuit of glory (not to mention stupidity). Just name me one situation – hypothetical or otherwise – where there could be absolutely no option but to go up a ladder with a chainsaw or to use a chainsaw without the right safety gear.

I guess that’s the thing about common sense – its not actually that common.

Puggy Pearson 10:43 am 13 Dec 05

All this over missing a God

DT 10:19 am 13 Dec 05

Agreed. These guys do a great job for free – the least we can do is give them some friggin’ sandwiches or a cooked meal.

colsim 10:09 am 13 Dec 05

I’ve seen this “if you don’t like it, just walk away” attitude a few times now – fortunately there are some people with better priorities.

Many thanks and kudos to all the vollies (SES and beyond) for doing their bit. You should absolutely be well equipped and fed for what you do. I think the powers that be in these organisations really need to take a look at what the point of the organisation is.

Maelinar 8:05 am 13 Dec 05

Puggy, When you’ve been out since finishing work the previous day and it’s rolling up to lunchtime or dinner on the next day, you’d think that there had been ample time to plan and prepare food wouldn’t you ?

‘rolling into Maccas’ isn’t an option. SES members don’t eat shit, which is what maccas is, and I’m sure that after a day and a half doing manual labour you’d appreciate that eating mildly flavoured cardboard that gives you no energy whatsoever isn’t really a sensible choice.

You may think that Pizza might be a functional option as well, but try that for breakfast, lunch, dinner, breakfast, lunch, and see if you still want pizza for dinner.

The issue with SES food IMHO is simple; provide nutritious food and prepare to cook alongside with planning any callout.

From what I have gathered from other sources, SES units used to do their own catering, as it was an inbuilt capacity. It has since been outsourced, to the HQ level, and has consistently failed to provide catering ever since, even in the previous example of after you have been out slogging for a couple of days.

I’m sure we’d all love to pay for meals like you so freely do, but volunteer work isn’t the sole realm of the rich and famous, and some extremely poor people, yes people that have bank accounts that have $2 or less in them, come out and volunteer.

Would you still insist on a volunteer paying for a meal when only a few members of the team have the money to pay for that meal ?

That’s not even getting into food tastes, allergies, dietary requirements or any of the myriad of problems that going to a fast food restraunt involves.

As I said earlier, the solution to this is quite simple, if you call out SES, ensure you organise catering straight away.

The only problem with that is some members of the HQ have consistently failed to grasp that idea since responsibility passed to them.

Puggy Pearson 10:41 pm 12 Dec 05

OK. All I will say is that if I was volunteering and didnt get fed then I would make arrangements to pay for my own meal and not bleat about it in the media.

Equipment issue a different story but FFS, plan ahead and have something ready, or send one of the ‘team’ down to Maccas or whathever tickles your fancy.

And if it all gets too hard, unvolunteer. I would lay good money that no-one went unfed for 12hrs.

The SES did a great job fixing my house a few years ago, so I’m not being vindictive, but since the Fires the complaining has been non-stop

Nik_the_Pig 9:15 pm 12 Dec 05

and most employers are obliged to provide you food or give you a meal allowance if you work in-excess of 8 hours with out a break.

johnboy 9:03 pm 12 Dec 05

If you’re at work you’re getting paid though?

Puggy Pearson 8:59 pm 12 Dec 05

The equipment issue is pretty average, in fact appalling, but for goodness sake, couldnt someone have taken the initiative and gone out and BOUGHT food for everyone. I mean if I am at work and I am hungry I buy myself something to eat. Sick of hearing SES whingeing. I mean poor equipment is one thing, but stop whingeing about things like food, everyone else buys their own

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