Pin pulled on Tabulam SES because of lack of members

Susanna Freymark

As the Clarence River rises and the rain seems to be falling forever, the pressure on emergency services grows.

For Tabulam the forecast for further extreme weather holds a greater threat – the area does not have an operating SES.

Former Tabulam SES commander David McNaughton said there were not enough members to sustain an SES unit.

“The same three or four people were on call,” he said, “it wasn’t sustainable.”

Mr McNaughton’s day could start at 6am and finish at 11pm helping people during floods and in road crashes.

“It was the same three of four people on call,” he said.

The SES unit needs at least six members trained in crash rescues and about 15 to have a sustainable unit.

Mr McNaughton spent the last two years trying to get more people to enrol.

“People expect us to be there but they aren’t volunteering,” he said.

“I’ve pulled the pin on it.”

Tabulam RFS captain Scott Carmichael said the RFS was monitoring the flood situation.

“I’ve been here for 30 years,” he said.

The Clarence River was being monitored.

“Tabulam floods backwards, from the racecourse,” he said.

“This will give us an indication of flooding.”

Resident Ama Cedar said she thought mandatory vaccination for covid had impacted membership of the SES and the RFS.

Ms Cedar is on the Tabulam Emergency Resilience team, is a Red Cross Emergency trained volunteer and the Tabulam emergency evacuation centre coordinator for Kyogle Council.

She has contacted Janelle Saffin about the lack of an operating SES.

“In order to put some weight behind any lobbying to lift mandates in remote areas so we can man and woman our emergency services I wish to know if Tabulam Progress Association is willing to start a petition in this regard.  It would initially be placed in Tabulam Post Office,” she said.

Mr McNaughton said vaccinations were not the issue, people simply weren’t signing up to volunteer.

Local people were needed, he said.

“We had members from Casino.”

Former SES member Neville O‘Malley posted online to remind residents that Tabulam SES “was offline”.

“This is due to a lack of members and other reasons. The SES hierarchy may or may not try to revive the unit,” he wrote.

“This means we as a community need to work together to keep everyone safe. Continue to put up posts about flood waters but put a date and time on them. Share the posts to other local Facebook Groups so they are available to as many people as possible.”

Casino SES and Tenterfield SES are on standby to assist Tabulam if required.

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