By Nick Sinis

IT MAY almost seem like a coincidence that Thank A First Responder Day was this week, as emergency services have been risking it all to assist their communities through the storm.
And there were some extremely close calls locally, after a member of the Leongatha SES Unit was unfortunately injured by a falling branch on Wednesday night.
Unit controller Matt Saario said the volunteer suffered various injuries including a broken wrist, nose and shoulder blade and was transported to Dandenong Hospital.
“We were out clearing some trees and were coming back into Poowong when we came across a tree that was over the road,” Mr Saario said.
“It was getting cleared by some passers-by and we gave them a hand, but as we were packing up one of the members got clipped by a branch.
“It had fallen just behind the vehicle.
“He’s almost 21 and has been in the unit for about 12 months.”
Mr Saario said other units also had some unfortunate incidents, with San Remo SES receiving major damage to one of its trucks.
“There was a member at Morwell that got hit by a tree as well,” he said.
“We had crews operational since about lunchtime on Wednesday, when our first couple of jobs came through for damage to buildings.
“At the peak we had three crews trying to unblock roads.
“And at about 11.30pm on Wednesday night, all the crews were pulled back as it was too dangerous, and we were only doing critical jobs.
“We didn’t start again until 7am on Thursday.”
The unit received over 100 Requests For Assistance (RFA) stretching from Lang Lang to Toora, and Delburn to Tarwin.
In Wonthaggi, things were beginning to clear up today as the unit enters into recovery mode.
“Overall, we responded to quite a few jobs mainly for trees and building damage due to wind in the area,” unit controller Jarrod Hargreaves said.
“We did about 18 (RFA) in our patch, and we had about five members punching through them.
“We’re still operational and fresh enough to get crews on the road, we’re just using this opportunity to rest before we get more rain.”
Phillip Island and San Remo units were also called to dozens of downed trees and RFA.
Motorists are reminded to never drive in flood waters and to visit ses.vic.gov.au/get-ready for information on how to be flood ready.