State Emergency Service

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State Emergency Service
SES logo.png
Agency overview
Jurisdiction Australia
Employees20,000 +

The State Emergency Service (SES) is the name used by a number of volunteer organisations in Australia that provide assistance during and after major incidents, such as floods, storms, cyclones, and bushfires. The SES also assist in other emergencies, such as vertical and road crash rescues, missing persons searches, and medical evacuations. In other scenarios the SES may provide a support role to other agencies, particularly police and fire. The SES is operational 24 hours a day. The SES is constituted as separate organisations operating in the various Australian states and territories. Eight of the SES organisations co-ordinate through the Australian Council of State and Territory Emergency Services (ACSES).

States and territories of Australia first-level subdivision of Australia

The states and territories are the first-level administrative divisions of the Commonwealth of Australia. They are the second level of government in Australia, located between the federal and local government tiers.



During World War II the National Emergency Service was created on 1 February 1939 to provide air raid wardens. [1] with the organisation disbanded six months after the end of the war. [2]

The Civil Defence Service began in Australia in 1955. It was formed as a precaution to any potential attacks on Australian soil. The name was changed to the "State Emergency Service" (abbreviated to "SES") during the 1970s, to reflect a change of emphasis into providing emergency help related to floods, storms and other natural emergencies. Every state and territory in Australia has its own State (or Territory) Emergency Service, and there are 43,000 volunteers spread across the country. Each state or territory is broken into regions, then units, and finally groups or teams.

Civil Defence Service organization

The Civil Defence Service was a civilian volunteer organisation in Great Britain during World War II. Established by the Home Office in 1935 as Air Raid Precautions (ARP), its name was officially changed to the Civil Defence Service (CD) in 1941. The Civil Defence Service included the ARP Wardens Service as well as firemen, fire watchers, rescue, first aid post and stretcher parties. Over 1.9 million people served within the CD and nearly 2,400 lost their lives to enemy action.

Flood Overflow of water that submerges land that is not normally submerged

A flood is an overflow of water that submerges land that is usually dry. In the sense of "flowing water", the word may also be applied to the inflow of the tide. Floods are an area of study of the discipline hydrology and are of significant concern in agriculture, civil engineering and public health.

Storm any disturbed state of an astronomical bodys atmosphere

A storm is any disturbed state of an environment or in an astronomical body's atmosphere especially affecting its surface, and strongly implying severe weather. It may be marked by significant disruptions to normal conditions such as strong wind, tornadoes, hail, thunder and lightning, heavy precipitation, heavy freezing rain, strong winds, or wind transporting some substance through the atmosphere as in a dust storm, blizzard, sandstorm, etc.

The SES is one of many public safety organisations using AIIMS (Australasian Inter-Service Incident Management System). Typically, small incidents (AIIMS type 1) are assigned to a 'unit' and dealt with by a 'team'. AIIMS type 2 or 3 incidents are coordinated at the regional level.

In Australia, the Australasian Inter-Service Incident Management System (AIIMS) is the nationally recognised system of incident management for the nation's fire and emergency service agencies. Organisational principles and structure are used to manage bushfires and other large emergencies utilising the all agencies approach. AIIMS was first developed in the 1980s as a derivative of the United States’ NIIMS, and is based on the principles of management by objectives, functional management and span of control. AIIMS is a trademark of AFAC and the material in the AIIMS manual and training materials is copyright of AFAC.

The Queensland State Emergency Service was established in 1975, which evolved from the Queensland Civil Defence Organisation which commenced in 1961. [3]

Queensland State Emergency Service

The Queensland State Emergency Service (QSES) in Queensland is a volunteer based organisation of the Queensland Government and forms part of the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES), responsible for disaster management and as an emergency services auxiliary.

Agency Executives

Each State Emergency Service has an Executive appointed by the Minister responsible for each state.

Acting Commissioner Kyle Stewart New South Wales State Emergency Service [4]
Chief Executive Officer Stephen Griffin Victoria State Emergency Service
DirectorAndrew Lea, ESM Tasmania State Emergency Service
Chief OfficerChris BeattieSouth Australian State Emergency Service
Chief OfficerBrigadier Georgeina Whelan, AM, CSCAustralian Capital Territory State Emergency Service
DirectorAndrew WartonNorthern Territory Emergency Service
Assistant Director-GeneralBruce Grady Queensland State Emergency Service
Chief Operations OfficerLloyd BaileyWestern Australia Department of Fire and Emergency Services


The SES provides assistance to local communities in times of need. Because every community is different, every SES Unit has a slightly different set of roles and activities. Depending on the needs of the local community, a Unit may perform only some or all of these roles:

Agency Support (Operational)Supporting other Emergency Services during incidents with lighting, human resources, marine transport, and other services.
Agency Support (Training)Supporting other Emergency Services, agencies, and community organisations with member participation, resources, and welfare.
Air Observation - SearchAssisting in searches over land and sea from both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.
Air Observation - IntelligenceGathering Flood Intelligence during events, emergency evacuation, remote area resupply, Reconnaissance of Flood and Storm effected areas.
Air Support OperationsProviding ground support for Emergency Aircraft Operations, notably the filling of water bomber aircraft during bushfire events.
Building ImpactMinor USAR operations caused by motor vehicles crashing into buildings. SES units provide shoring to these buildings and temporary building stabilisation.
Communication Support UnitProvide communications support in difficult terrains. Install repeater radios and portable antennas. Co-ordinate other SES teams. Members are also trained to carry out the functions of other SES units.
Crowd and/or Traffic ControlAssisting police and ambulance at public events like ANZAC Day in this capacity. Also assisting police with road closures during events like flooding and New Year celebrations.
Emergency services liaisonWorking with representatives of other emergency services during emergencies.
Evacuation Centre ManagementEstablishing and running temporary evacuation centres.
Fire Support & TrainingAssisting the police and the rural and metropolitan fire services with road closures, evacuations, delivery of welfare during major fires, and some training like First Aid and Chainsaw Operations.
First AidAiding members of the public requiring basic medical aid and assisting ambulance officers and members of St. John Ambulance of Australia with triage and mass casualty situations
Flood and storm preparation and responseMaking temporary repairs and protecting property after floods and storms, helping people prepare for floods and storms and using specialised equipment like flood boats and chainsaws.
General rescue procedures and skillsWorking safely to remove people from dangerous situations
Land SearchSearching for missing persons usually in both rural and suburban areas. Land search ranges from street based searches, to scrub and woodland areas as well as mountain rescue.
ManagementTeam which fill the administration roles at a unit level
Marine RescueWorking with the Coast Guard and other marine organizations in assisting boats in distress
Media, public relations and community educationWorking with the media and the public to communicate safety messages and warnings and to promote the SES to the community
Mines RescueSome SES units have specific training to allow them to rescue trapped persons from inside collapsed mines
Road-crash rescueProviding mechanical intervention to crashed vehicles and extricating injured persons.
Swiftwater RescueRescue/recovery of persons trapped in inland waterways or floodwater with skills applicable to fast-flowing water.
Training coordinationHelping to plan and carry out the training in a Unit. Nationally recognised subjects and courses are available to members.
Urban Search and Rescue (USAR)Extending basic rescue techniques to situations such as collapsed or unstable structures, using specialised equipment such as after bombs or explosions
Vertical rescueRescuing people from heights and depths such as cliffs or ravines
Tsunami & earthquake responseResponding to and managing tsunami and earthquake events
WelfareProviding and administrating temporary field bases for activations, including meals, peer support, teas & coffees etc. The SES also runs a "driver reviver" scheme that aims to reduce accidents caused by fatigued drivers.


In addition to funds provided through legislation to the SES by state and local governments, SES groups also supplement their financial resources with donations made by individuals and businesses, and through other government grants. These donations typically contribute to purchasing or maintaining group equipment, such as vehicles and tools, or to improvement of SES property and facilities.

OKA 4wd large 4-wheel-drive vehicle made in Western Australia by OKA

OKA Australia was an Australian company that manufactured all terrain vehicles, particularly four wheel drive trucks and tour buses. OKA is currently owned by the OZTerrain Pty Ltd since 2017.

See also

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  1. "World War II and Australia: National Emergency Services NSW". Archived from the original on 21 December 2017. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  2. "National Emergency Services, New South Wales". Archived from the original on 15 February 2018. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  3. "History". Queensland State Emergency Service . 6 December 2016. Archived from the original on 15 March 2018. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  4. "Australian Council of State Emergency Services". Archived from the original on 28 February 2018.