News & Media

Combining volunteering and study - NSVW 2015

  • Casey Ely at an CFA incident
  • Katelyn Stares at CFA incident wearing breathing apparatus
  • Michael Platt at a CFA training activity
  • Michael Platt at Sebastopol Fire Station
  • Casey Ely - Sebastopol Fire Brigade running team
  • Katelyn preparing to go into the cage of the aerial appliance

It’s National Student Volunteer Week (NSVW)  3 - 9 August. We interviewed three volunteers from CFA District 15 who are students, who bring to CFA a wealth of knowledge and experience gained through their studies.

NSVW provides an opportunity to challenge, change and celebrate student volunteering across Australia.

Casey Ely has been a volunteer with CFA for 14 years and is a member of Ballarat City Fire Brigade. She is studying a degree in Paramedicine at Victoria University.

Michael Platt has been volunteering for two years with Sebastopol Fire Brigade. He is studying Bachelor of Nursing/Bachelor of Paramedicine at Australian Catholic University Ballarat

Katelyn Stares started off with CFA at Dereel Fire Brigade as a junior and is now with Sebastopol Fire Brigade. She is studying a Bachelor of Community and Human Services at Federation University.

 How do you think that your volunteering has helped you in your studies?

Casey “I have gone into paramedic studies with an excellent grounding in emergency response, multi-agency incidents and communicating with people. I have been able to provide real-life scenarios and experiences to my fellow students and assist in the running of scenarios for our major incidents training.”

Michael “Given the obvious links between the fire brigade and ambulance service, there are many situations where my firefighting knowledge comes in handy on ambulance placement, and vice versa. For example, I recently attended a car accident on paramedic placement, where the patient required extrication. My knowledge of the rescue unit's capability allowed us to quickly and safely remove the patient from the car.”

“Volunteering with the fire brigade also allows me to get away from the stresses of study, as firefighting is something that I really enjoy.”

In what way do you think that volunteering has influenced your life?

Katelyn “I truly believe that if I had never had joined the CFA I would not be the person I am today. I have met so many incredible people who have helped shape me into the person I am. I attended the CFA challenge camp in 2014 which provided me with so many life skills and taught me that I can rise to any challenge - I can even climb a mountain apparently”

“I have had some fantastic role models from both Dereel and Sebastopol brigades throughout the years.” “  I have seen the real value or honesty and integrity and learnt the importance of teamwork in life threatening situations. And those along with many others are skills that will help me in many aspects of the rest of my life”

Casey “It has given me exceptional experience in dealing with stressful situations, working in dynamic teams and problem solving. It has shown me a career path that I would never have considered and is going to be very rewarding.”

Michael “I'm lucky to be part of a really supportive brigade, and have made some great friends in the brigade and the wider CFA community.”

“I've also been fortunate enough to be a participant in the Challenge program, through which I have gained a wide range of leadership skills. I'm able to apply these skills to all facets of my life, not just with the CFA.”

“I enjoy nursing & Paramedicine as both serve to help the community, and volunteering with the fire brigade is another extension of that. I really get to feel like I am making a difference to people's lives and that's a great benefit!”

In what way do you think that being a volunteer will benefit you after university and in your chosen career?

Katelyn “The many skills I have learnt throughout my time with the CFA will benefit me in my future career. Skills such as time management, prioritising areas of importance and communication skills can only be of benefit to me in my future career. Sense of community. My time in CFA has exposed me to a very diverse community and taught me ways in which to communicate appropriately.”

Michael “Volunteering is highly regarded among many employers. Although I'm not a part of the CFA for the reference on my job application, it's nice to know that my future employers will recognise my contribution.”

“I've also gained skills that will improve my suitability for a wide range of organisational roles, particularly those relating to emergency management. Many of the training courses I have undertaken are nationally recognised, so they can be transferred into plenty of other skill sets.”

Casey “Wherever I end up being stationed, there will be a fire brigade I can be involved with to tighten my community connections. I have learnt how to build rapport and communicate with people when they are in their lowest of lows. Already having skill and knowledge in emergency response will be a valuable asset to my new career giving me the confidence to learn and develop my clinical abilities.”

What would you say to other students considering volunteering?

Katelyn “Absolutely definitely go for it! You have nothing to lose, and only endless skills and amazing friendships to gain!”

Michael “Have a crack! It doesn't have to be something as "big" as firefighting, as firefighting isn't going to be for everyone. Find something that fits with your interests or abilities and get involved, what you get back is definitely worth it!”

Casey “Volunteering gives you experiences and life skills without knowing it. Giving your time and effort for others and seeing the positive outcomes of this is rewarding and makes you feel proud. Making the smallest difference to somebody else’s world is a satisfying experience and they will be forever grateful.”

CFA District 15 would like to thank and recognise the contribution of all our student members who juggle study, work and volunteering commitments to provide a service to our community.

Last Updated: 06 August 2015