It’s National Volunteer Week and to celebrate the NSW State Emergency Service (NSW SES) is encouraging you to wear something orange for Wear Orange Wednesday (WOW Day) on Wednesday 22 May to show your support and appreciation for your local NSW SES volunteers.

Acts of service and supporting the community can sometimes be so engrained in you that it’s as if it’s a part of your DNA. That is certainly the case for the Leading Senior Operator of Dorrigo Unit, Peter Tarran who has been volunteering with the NSW SES for 41 years.

“Growing up, my father was one of two ambulance officers in the area. I have a brother who has just retired as a paramedic, a brother-in-law who is a paramedic and a nephew who’s training to become a paramedic. I wasn’t interested with the ambulance, so I’m just in the community and I get a lot of joy out of supporting with whatever needs to be done,” Leading Senior Operator Tarran said.

“All nine of my children have been through the NSW SES so far. My youngest son tried joining the day before turning 16 but the system knocked him back because his birth date wasn’t right, so he had to wait until the next day to join and he really enjoys it. He’s really putting his foot forward for things.”

The family affair has led to a lot of rewarding moments and rescues that they have performed together.

“It was Christmas Eve a few years ago. It was raining heavily, and I got a call to say there was a young woman distressed on Dorrigo Mountain and that she was trapped by fallen trees. It was myself and four of my kids that responded to that one,” he recounts.

“It was 10:30 at night and the road was blocked for some time. As we left there, we encountered two other cars going down and I said you either come with us for a cup of coffee or stay here for 5 hours. So that night we had something like nine people sitting around the table and they didn’t leave until 5 o’clock in the morning.”

It comes as no surprise to know that Peter has been recognised for his service to the community after many years of service.

“The rescue of Wayne Burley off the Dorrigo Mountain in 1994. He was going to party in Bellingen and went missing, so we organised a search. He’d gone over the mountain,” he recalls.

“There was a location where there was a bit of broken foliage and when we went down there, we found him. He was in a car about 200 metres down the mountain.

“My other companion, the ambulance officer and I managed to get down to him and cut him out of the car and get him back up to the road. That was a long, arduous job that we got bravery medals for.”

Peter would love to see younger people getting involved with volunteering however they can.

“Put yourself out there. Start volunteering and start putting effort in. You’ll really enjoy what you get out of it, Mr Tarran said.

“We don’t get thanked a lot, but when you do put a tarp on a roof or when you help someone divert water out of their house, they thank you and really appreciate what you do.”

“I did a job a couple of months ago and after getting a coffee with a friend, I went to pay only to find that it had already been picked up because the lady we helped wanted to pay us back. That made us feel really good that she made that effort to say thanks very much.”

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