Rescuers celebrate 40 years
NOT every rescue has a happy ending, but Tweed's dedicated volunteers have saved countless lives over the years.
The NSW Volunteer Rescue Association (VRA), which includes the Tweed District Rescue Squad, the Point Danger Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) and the Tweed Coast Sea Rescue, is this year celebrating 40 years of service.
Tweed District Rescue Squad spokesman Jamie Stoddart said the rescue teams were proud to have reached such a milestone.
“Without the 4500 volunteers that have donned the NSW VRA uniform we wouldn't have been able to reach this milestone, or more, provide such a valuable rescue service communities can count on,” Mr Stoddart said.
Volunteering for Tweed District Rescue Squad for the past seven years, Mal Pearse has had many memorable experiences.
He said offering his time to the squad is all about “giving something back to the community”.
Mr Pearse recalls one incident when his team had to climb Mt Warning to assist an elderly man.
“We've had people lost on Mt Warning over the years - one was an 83-year-old gentleman who collapsed up there, so that was an interesting one,” he said.
“We've also seen some horrific things on the road.
“It gives you a whole new perspective on what can happen out there and how quickly it can happen.”
Mr Pearse said some elements of the job are not easy, but the volunteers knew that when they signed up.
“Peer support helps,” he said. “But we don't go into it with the blinkers on.
“We know it's going to be tough and it's not for everyone.”
Likewise, VMR president Bernie Gabriel has been involved with countless rescues over the years.
He has been with the VMR since it began.
“I was a foundation member and I'm still here going strong because they can't get rid of me,” he laughed.
“It just gets you; it becomes part of your life.”
The 40-year milestone will include a NSW VRA conference, to be held at Twin Towns Services Club later this month.
Mr Stoddart said the NSW VRA relied heavily on support from local communities, the government and organisations like NRMA to be able to fulfil its role.
The organisation is also seeking new volunteers.
“We're always looking for good volunteers,” Mr Gabriel said.
“We do offer positions for people who want to give up their time and keep their minds active.”
For more information or to become a volunteer, visit