UFS in the Community – Partnering to save lives

The Bendigo Unit of the State Emergency Service is a volunteer based emergency service. Its 50 volunteers provide an emergency response to events including storm, flood, earthquake and road crash rescue.

The unit is very active within the greater Bendigo community – the 2014-2015 financial year saw us called to 375 requests for assistance, 54 of which were rescue calls (including road crash and industrial accidents). We also have a strong focus on community education, regularly visiting schools and community groups to share key messages of preparedness and resilience. As a volunteer based emergency service, we actively seek funding to allow us to continue to provide the best possible response to the needs of our community.

The unit has been proud to partner with UFS Pharmacies in the Building a Healthier Community Program since 2011. Each year we are delighted to accept a cheque from UFS Pharmacies as a direct result of a growing number of UFS Pharmacies members nominating our unit as the beneficiary of a portion of their UFS Pharmacies membership fee. This year we are very excited to put the funds received from UFS Pharmacies towards the purchase of an AED, or defibrillator.

As volunteers, when we receive a page to attend an emergency job, we need to leave our home or our workplace in order to turn out, rather than paid emergency staff who are often sitting in their station ready to respond immediately to any call. This means that we are often on scene after police and ambulance, but we are all first aid trained, and there are certainly occasions we need to apply this training at a scene.

Statistics have shown that in the event of cardiac arrest, early intervention is the key to survival, and although CPR isn’t a guarantee of survival, those patients who have received CPR from bystanders have a much higher recovery rate than those not receiving this care. An AED, while not appropriate for all patients, used when required, again has a significantly positive impact on the long term survival of cardiac patients.

Adding this tool to our resources has been our goal for some time – the cost has been prohibitive. We are very thankful to the team at UFS Pharmacies for the funding which has finally allowed us to add this important piece of equipment to our toolbox. We hope we never have to use it, but having it on hand, and having all our volunteers trained in the use of such a device, gives us, and our community, great peace of mind.

The volunteers of Bendigo SES look forward to many years of partnership with the team at UFS Pharmacies, with the people within our community the ultimate beneficiaries of such a partnership.

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Written by Natalie Stanway, Volunteer.