Awards honour disaster efforts
ROB Probst is no newcomer to helping his fellow Queenslanders out in a disaster, but the biggest test of his nerve came just this year.
The Rosewood SES group leader and the rest of his team were stranded in the little township west of Ipswich when the floods hit their peak in January, and forced to work out of the school after water inundated the group's depot.
Through countless evacuations, rescues and sandbagging operations, Mr Probst led the emergency service volunteers for weeks on end, often with little or no sleep.
Mr Probst will be one of more than a dozen Ipswich region volunteers to receive official recognition at tomorrow's SES Week awards ceremony at Springwood State School.
"It is good to get some recognition for all the right reasons," Mr Probst said.
"All the sleepless nights and phone calls at two or three o'clock in the morning."
There were days of sandbagging in the lead-up to this year's floods, but the real suspense came when the water started blocking roads in and out of town.
"One incident that stands out is two young girls in a hatchback, who tried to drive across a flooded road on the flats between Rosewood and Lanefield," Mr Probst said.
"The car was swept off the side of the road, but luckily one of them had the presence of mind to open the door and sink the car.
"The second-in-charge and I were able to drive in and get them out, but the water was still rising and was up to the tray on the back of the rescue vehicle by the time we took off.
"They were very lucky but we saw a lot of that sort of thing - it just leaves you scratching your head."
The building contractor joined the SES, at his brother's insistence, in 1995, becoming group leader in 2001 after being strongly urged to do so by others within the organisation.
Since then both his sons - now aged 21 and 16 - have come up through the cadet program to join what is known colloquially as "The Big Orange".
- Ipswich boasts some of the longest-serving SES volunteers in the state.
- Russ Ladlay and Ross Elliot joined shortly after the 1974 floods, when the SES first began.
- Controller Arie van den Ende joined in 1975 and Andy Millar in 1976.