Kindergarten educator and State Emergency Services volunteer, Hailey Wetzel, has been recognised by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) and her community for her valiant contribution to a 15-day land search of Magnetic Island.
“When the call came out that a young man had gone missing, my partner and I put our hands up to help in any way we could,” Ms Wetzel said.
The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) Australia Day Achievement Awards recognise QFES staff and volunteers from the State Emergency Service (SES), Rural Fire Service (RFS), and Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) for their outstanding service this past year.
Ms Wetzel joined the SES with her partner several years ago. Since then, their involvement and leadership has increased. Having grown up on the island, Ms Wetzel’s involvement in the SES came naturally to her as an extension of her work to educate children in the community.
“Here, we really do rely on one another and band together in times of crisis,” Ms Wetzel said. “Whenever we have flooding, cyclones, or any natural disaster, we can become cut-off from the rest of the region. Growing up, I recognised that the SES were always present to lend a helping hand.”
“I am proud of the work we do, and what we have given back to the community through our service. I would encourage anyone to consider giving their time to the SES. Not only do you receive valuable training and wonderful support, but you really do grow as a person.”
Humble in her work as she is in her recognition, Ms Wetzel recognises the collective efforts of the whole able-bodied community that was with her during the land search.
Australian Retirement Trust CEO Bernard Reilly said a sense of pride in community is exhibited by all award recipients. “These individuals are not only talented, but upstanding members of their diverse, and often rural and remote, communities where many of our members live and work. Through our support we not only honour those on the frontline, but the networks of people who ensure the ongoing safety and care of Queenslanders in times of crisis or emergency.”
Ms Wetzel, along with 100 other remarkable individuals, will be recognised in ceremonies across the state this week, in an annual celebration of Queensland heroism and dedication to community. The Awards recognise recipients across seven Queensland regions, and include nominations based on leadership, initiatives, and education and awareness programs.
“All recipients of this year’s Australia Day Achievement Awards, and indeed all those within QFES, go above and beyond to keep Queensland safe,” QFES Commissioner Greg Leach said. “We sincerely thank Australian Retirement Trust for its ongoing support. This is an important event in our calendar each year and their support enables us to recognise the fantastic efforts of our staff and volunteers.”