SES Officer

Community and Health

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Practical or MechanicalSkill Level 1Skill Level 2

State Emergency Services (SES) are organisations dedicated to assisting communities prepare and respond to unexpected events and play a vital role in confronting the effects of natural and man made emergencies in all states and territories. It is a volunteer organisation.

The SESs are mainly involved with FutureGrowthModerate

  • storm operations

  •  flood operations

  • road crash rescue,

 and they also provide assistance in search and rescue operations and support for the fulltime emergency response agencies like police, ambulance and fire services.

SES Officer
Unclogging Drain
Western Advocate)

State Emergency Services (SES) operate in each state and territories to help communities manage a range of events and to enhance community safety. Local SES units are made up almost entirely of volunteers who are the key contributors to the success of the organisations. Volunteers are involved with all aspect of emergency management: prevention, preparation, response and recovery. SES volunteers also act in a supporting role to other agencies such as police, ambulance and fire services.

getting rid of tree
Getting a fallen tree away
(Source: Western Advocate)

Knowledge, skills and attributes

  • Minimizing risk by dousing fires or taking other steps as needed

  • Participating in in-service events and drills to hone rescue and reaction skills

  • Providing first aid to those at the emergency

  • Rescuing, freeing, or evacuating those trapped in dangerous conditions

  • Rushing to scenes of fire and other emergencies

  • Studying building maps and plans to become familiar with access points and escape routes

  • Be willing to travel interstate in the event of a major emergency.

  • Ability to listen closely to and interpret the speech of those individuals affected by the emergency

  • Basic medical competence

  • Physical strength

  • Quick thinking

  • Sound interpersonal skills and experience in working with people and teams.

  • Ability to think clearly in stressful situations and make decisions independently as well as staying calm.

  • Ability to work as part of a team and both take and give direction.

  • Use of logic and critical thinking to determine the most appropriate and safest course of action for any given emergency

Volunteering with the State Emergency Service (SES) | Australian Paramedical College




Working conditions

While State Emergency Service Officers may be based at a station house, the workplace is mobile as SES Officers must respond to called-in emergencies. Sites are often dangerous and may often include fire and smoke.

Placing sandbags
Placing sandbags to prevent damage from flooding
(Source: Western Advocate)

Education and training/entrance requirements

SES is an equal opportunity service and apart from a medical declaration form and a Police integrity check, there are no pre-requisites. All training occurs on the job.

For example, in the ACT SES (and this appears to be similar in all States and Territories):

"The State Emergency Service (SES) is a volunteer organisation encouraging people to help themselves and others in times of emergencies and disasters. You need to be over 16 years of age to volunteer.

Membership of the ACTSES is open to men and women with a reasonable degree of physical fitness and a passion to do the right thing within their community. SES accepts members from the age of 16 (with parental consent) and from 18 for general membership.

While most ACTSES volunteers undertake Operational roles, ACTSES offers a range of positions to suit a range of interests and skills:

  • Active Members –functions performed by these operational volunteers include storm and water damage mitigation and response, radio communications, operations centre support, search, navigation, scene lighting, first aid and support for community events.

  • Unit Support Members – provide a broad range of support roles including Unit catering, first aid support, general welfare to volunteers, community activity support and administrative tasks as deemed necessary by the Unit Commander

  • Community Education Members – provide strategic direction for ACTSES Community Education and deliver these programs to schools, scouts, CALD community groups, Multicultural groups and other various community groups.

It is acknowledged and understood that volunteers’ main priorities are family and work. ACTSES volunteers are expected to attend training every Thursday evening as well as the occasional full day activity or courses on a weekend where applicable to their position.
In addition to these scheduled training commitments, volunteers are required to maintain currency of skills by attending community events and operations related to their position within the Service.

Active Members respond to callouts within their communities, across the ACT, and sometimes inter-state as needed." (Source: ACT SES)

Did You Know?

Sandbagging Demonstration

Material sourced from
Western Advocate;
Open University;
Red Cross
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