What we do

“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.”

You've probably seen us in the newspaper or on tv. Chainsawing trees, stabalising buildings, helping with flooding, but there is a lot more to us than that!

General Rescue

Land Search, Flooding and Storm Damage, Building Impacts

General Rescue

State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers assist SAPOL to conduct thousands of searches over all types of terrain across the state in both rural and urban areas.

Most searches are undertaken for missing or injured people however, volunteers also assist Police looking for criminal evidence.

Volunteers are trained in a number of search techniques and required to have specific skills including map reading and navigation, first aid, field craft, observation (both day and night), and tracking.

SES volunteers also assist search and rescue operations from the air as observers for both land and sea searches. Searching can be an extremely traumatic task especially when young children are involved and the outcome is not successfli

Western Adelaide also attend incidents with Building Impacts to ensure the building is safe to re-enter/for the public to be around.

SES volunteers have peer support counseling services available to help deal with stressful incidents.

Flood and Water Rescue

Rescue from fast running water

Swift Water Rescue

Swiftwater rescue is the rescue of persons from fast moving water in areas such as stormwater drains, canals, rivers, creeks or flooded fords. It involves many rescue techniques and includes the use of rope throw lines and suitably equipped and trained rescuers entering the water to perform the rescue.

Most Western Adelaide volunteers trained in Land Based Swiftwater rescue, and currently has 3 Swiftwater technicians.

An example of a training exercise can be viewed here See the Swiftwater team in action here

Rescuers train in:
- Self-Rescue Techniques
- Swiftwater Hydrology & Dynamics
- Technical Rescue Equipment
- Hazard Identification & Safety Orientation
- Swimming - Defensive & Offensive
- Throwbag Rescues
- Contact Rescues
- Towed Rescues
- Pinning Type Rescues
- Foot Entrapment Rescues

We also conduct with sandbagging, pumping of water, and general storm damage (mild to wild) to premesis. You would have seen these!

Vertical Rescue

Rescue from heights and depths

Vertical Rescue

Vertical rescue skills are used to safely rescue those who find themselves trapped at height or depth in hostile environments. Cliff faces, caves, mine shafts, wells, towers, masts and silos as well as industrial environments all provide traps for the unprepared.

Vertical rescue units are located in strategic areas around the South Australian coastline, popular recreational climbing areas, close to large industrial complexes and mining areas of the State.

Volunteers from one third of SES Units across the State regularly train in the specialist skill of Vertical rescue. Due to the extensive training requirements of this skill it is divided into two sections -

- Access: is the first response to access a casualty, provide first aid, and rescue the trapped but uninjured
- Technician: to provide extrication of the injured using stretcher operations


Urban Search and Rescue


SES supports SAFECOM as the joint combat authority for urban search and rescue (USAR), along with the Metropolitan Fire Service. The agency has a developed the capability to deal with the rescue of casualties trapped by buildings, landfall or slippage which collapse as a result of industrial accidents, explosions, natural disasters and terrorist activity.

WAD has volunteers trained in USAR Cat 1 and 2.

Category 1 is an awareness level for initial responders who generally work removing primary surface casualties, conducting initial intelligence gathering, identifying hazards and establishing marking systems.

Category 2 involves very extensive training in the technical and specialised aspects of rescue. All of these skills combine to allow the rescuer to access survivable spaces located within the rubble to remove trapped and injured victims from partially or totally collapsed structures.

You can see many of these in our photo gallery!

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