VICSES volunteers have attended more call-outs than ever in its 70-year history during the 2019-2021 ‘COVID years’, with Gippsland SES being among the busiest.

The 2019-2021 financial years were two of the top three busiest years in VICSES history, in terms of state-wide requests for assistance, an analysis of internal VICSES data showed.

The storm on the evening of June 9, 2021, which lashed many parts of Gippsland, the Dandenong Ranges, Macedon Ranges and other areas, led to the busiest period in VICSES’ history, with over 10,000 calls for help in the days that followed.

State-wide, VICSES volunteers and staff attended 74,535 calls for help in the period July 1, 2019- June 30, 2021, a massive 27 per cent increase compared with the previous two-year period (July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2019).

Together, volunteers and staff logged more than 500,000 hours in the 12 months to June 30, 2021, responding to Victorians’ calls for help, during a period when Melbourne experienced its second wave of COVID cases and most of its citizens in prolonged lockdown.

Of the 503,427 hours spent responding to calls for help, 408,139 were for storms, 46,751 were to assist other emergency services, 18,617 were for floods, 12,022 were for road rescues, and 6767 were for other rescues.

Gippsland experienced the largest increase in requests for assistance over the June 1, 2019 – July 30, 2021 period, with VICSES East region units responding to 8371 requests.

This is 41 per cent more than the previous two-year period.

Calls for assistance across Victoria have been responded to by 4553 operational and support VICSES personnel, with a review of figures and trends showing volunteerism has remained steady over the past five years, despite the challenges of COVID-19.

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