Wednesday, April 24, 2024

NSW SES stalwarts recognised for decades of service

Two NSW State Emergency Service (NSW SES) volunteers with decades of service under their belts have been awarded Emergency Service Medals (ESMs) in this year’s Australia Day Honours List.

Sutherland Shire Local Commander John Gonzalez (pictured, left) and Tamworth Unit and Bingara Unit member Geoff Hanson (right) received the medals for their commitment to volunteer service with the NSW SES.

NSW SES Commissioner, Carlene York APM, congratulated the pair and thanked them for their ongoing service to their communities, both locally and intrastate.

“John and Geoff are inspirational for their peers in orange, and we are proud of their service and skills they’re able to offer as NSW SES volunteers,” Commissioner York said.

“These awards recognise John and Geoff’s selflessness and the tenacity they uphold through volunteering to assist their communities in times of need.

“Using their skills in several fields of expertise, they have not only assisted during recent floods and storms but have supported their communities throughout the past three decades.”

Mr Gonzalez has been a member of the NSW SES for 36 years and played a key role in increasing the service’s capabilities in the Sutherland Shire and pioneering the SES ranking system. He is also a highly skilled in-water flood rescue operator and offers invaluable support and training to upskill other volunteers.

Upon being awarded the ESM, Mr Gonzalez said he was grateful to be able to help his local community.

“It has been a privilege to mentor other members and help units reach their full potential,” he said.

Mr Gonzalez has been an NSW Ambulance paramedic for 29 years, utilising his many talents to save lives.

“I’m lucky some of the skills I can contribute go hand in hand between both organisations,” he said.

Meanwhile Mr Hanson brings a wealth of knowledge to his role with the NSW SES, and has lengthy experience in flood response, land search, vertical rescue, road crash rescue and storm capability.

“I don’t do it to get my name and picture in the paper – it is the last thing from my mind. I do it because I have a skillset and I’m happy to help people out on a bad day,” Mr Hanson said.

With 27 years of service, Mr Hanson dedicated his longevity with the service to the people he’s met through the NSW SES, and the passion he has for helping others.

“Look at these mates I’ve got; I’ve had experiences with them I never would have done outside of SES,” he said.

“You learn things you might need one day that might save your life or those around you.” 

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