Ready to serve when disaster strikes

Published 6:00am 24 May 2024

Ready to serve when disaster strikes
Words by Nadia Chapman

Philip Carton has a passion for helping the community during a disaster and has been volunteering with Redcliffe SES for nine years.

Moving from Brisbane’s west to the Peninsula in early 2015, Philip was looking for voluntary work that would help maintain his fitness levels.

“I was born in Brisbane and spent most of my childhood and most of my working life in this city before I retired early in 2014,” Philip says.

“After I finished paid employment, I was looking for ways to volunteer in the community and became a Brisbane Greeter in the latter part of 2014.”

After a short tenure coaching under 9s football at Peninsula Power, Philip found the Redcliffe SES base and never looked back.

“I began attending SES training at the Redcliffe base after the season finished in September 2015, became an SES member, and have remained one to this day. One advantage of joining the SES here is that I am so close to the base - I can walk there in about 15 minutes,” he says.

“I consider myself fortunate to be able to choose the voluntary work that I do. Both of my current roles - in the SES and as a Brisbane Greeter - were chosen partly because they allowed me to take advantage of, and to maintain, my physical fitness.”

The two main roles that Philip undertakes at the Redcliffe SES are searches and making temporary repairs to storm-damaged houses.

“One of the searches I was involved in quite a few years ago covered part of the swampy area drained by Saltwater Creek, at the western edge of the Redcliffe Peninsula,” Philip explains.

“That was where I encountered the most aggressive mosquitoes ever! These tykes didn't bother about looking for bare skin - they bit me right through my uniform and my gloves.

“The heavy rainfall over three days leading into the last weekend of February 2022 resulted in a lot of SES members being at our base on the Sunday morning in question.

“However, we couldn't leave for some time because Portwood Street (where the base is) had become a raging torrent. There is a large drainage pit in front of the main building there, from which water was spewing up into the air and adding to the chaos.”

Philip’s work with the SES has become an important part of his everyday life.

“Without wanting to sound trite, I would say that I volunteer at Redcliffe SES to give back to the community,” he says.

“My opinion is that people should generally try to help each other, and this is one way I am trying to do that… (and) almost everyone that we encounter seems to appreciate our efforts. That is good enough for me."

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