SES - keeping it in the family

Martin Ledwich signed up as an SES volunteer when he turned 18. By then, however, he knew the Craigieburn unit inside and out.

'I used to get dragged along by my dad from when I was 14,' he says.

'I'd go down there and the guys would use me to practise their craft. They'd look at the book and see how to tie someone to a gurney and then they'd do it to me.'

Martin's dad Paul helped found the unit, and he's still there 31 years later. Even though the SES is such a big part of their lives, neither of the Ledwich men has told Martin's mum that her son got his start as a test case for knots and rescues.

Following his dad into the unit was a natural move for Martin, and the Craigieburn team has a strong focus on family. Martin's wife Kylie and his mum Emily are both affiliates, and they're both supportive of their husbands' service.

There are quite a few families with a strong presence in the unit. There are long tenures, too: five members boast 146 years of service between them.  Maybe that's why they're such a tight-knit group.

'I just love it. The unit tends to be quite friendly and we're always hanging out afterwards. They're like family really,' Martin says.

Outside of the unit, Martin has a passion for 4WDs, which he first got into through his work with the SES. He also enjoys travelling around with family.

He's hard-pressed to pick any standout moments from his 25 years of service, but says the best part of big operations is that they pull in a lot of different units, allowing him to meet lots of other volunteers.

'You run into the same faces year after year. I like that.'

Martin served as a Divisional Commander during last year's floods in the north of Victoria, which he enjoyed.

'At the end we got to go up in a flight and see it all from above. You could really see the result of all that effort.'

The SES has become a huge part of Martin's life. He said volunteering was good fun and extremely satisfying.

'You get to see a lot of different things that you wouldn't see otherwise. You meet a lot of people in the worst situations, and they're just so grateful to see you. What's better than that?'

Volunteering with the SES offered structured training that was nationally recognised, he said, and so provided opportunities for personal development alongside everything else.
'If you're really serious about getting out there and helping your community, then this is one way to do it.'

As a volunteer based organisation, the Victoria State Emergency Service (SES) provides emergency assistance to thousands of Victorians every year with the assistance of more than 5,500 volunteers. To register your interest in becoming a volunteer call 1300 VICSES or email your enquiry to