It is a crisis when a rescue organisation that helps keep us all safe needs to be rescued itself.
That is the sad state of affairs at the Dubbo branch of the Volunteer Rescue Association.
The selfless – and obviously brave – volunteers are operating from a building that has: holes in the roof; the odd leaning wall; rain leaks; a collapsing inside ceiling; equipment stacked in piles out of water-damage range; and insufficient parking space for the emergency vehicles.
Their building has only one room, which serves them for conferences and meetings, acts as the command centre during emergencies … and is also the kitchen.
There is no shower or facility where volunteers can rest during an emergency.
Not a great workplace for a team of people which does so much for this community.
The volunteers are among the first on the scene during a road accident and are in charge of rescuing people trapped in vehicles.
They provide manpower and lighting at accident scenes.
They operate a boat for water rescues and searches during floods and other incidents.
The volunteers are trained in vertical rescues – on cliffs or buildings.
They also assist in searches for missing people.
The VRA is operating from a building it has occupied for nearly 40 years. It would be clear to any visitor that the structure has seen its best years and something needs to be done immediately to support a treasured community organisation.
As its name says, the VRA is a voluntary organisation. It gets some NSW Government funding which covers insurance, training and around $2000 for uniforms. It gets $11,000 a year from the Dubbo Regional Council.
But, it is up to the volunteers, who give their time to help save lives to find more hours to raise money to keep the organisation going.
As if their contribution wasn’t enough as it is.
VRA members raise donations by holding barbecues, getting donations from organisations by controlling the gates, traffic and parking at events, and carrying buckets into crowds seeking community contributions.
The community owes the volunteers an enormous amount of gratitude. They save lives and help us when we are in need. They need help. Let’s do our best to provide it.