The new controller of Warrnambool's State Emergency Service unit is no stranger to high-pressure rescue operations.
Andrew Miles, a volunteer for 28 years, joined the unit in 1993 when he was 18 and has held operational and leadership roles in large local incidents including major flood, bushfire, storm and search events, as well as participating in statewide skill development and road rescue competitions.
In 2006, Mr Miles helped rescue a group of people from drowning at Warrnambool's Stingray Bay.
"We were actually the first boat in the area during that incident," he said.
"There were about four or five people, including surf life savers, that were in the water, and we gave them all a lift out. It was a pretty big day."
Mr Miles' role in the rescue later saw him receive a bravery citation from the Royal Humane Society.
He has also been recognised by VICSES in the form of four service medals, a National Medal and National Medal first clasp.
A familiar face in the south-west, Mr Miles is known by many at St Joseph's Primary School as its facilities manager for the past seven years.
He said sometimes work-life-volunteer balance was difficult but he was lucky to have an understanding employer and family, including his wife Sharyn and daughters Alyssa and Jennifer.
Mr Miles has accreditation in a number of specialist skill areas, including general and road crash rescue, urban and land search, land-based swift water rescue, boat coxswain, storm, flood, chainsaw, four wheel drive, first aid and fire support.
He has also held a number of leadership roles including unit trainer, assessor and unit deputy controller.
Mr Miles has taken over from Giorgio Palmeri, who resigned as unit controller in September last year after almost nine years.
He said the unit was made up of a "really good bunch of people" and he hoped to continue its great work going forward.
"At the moment we need to recruit new members so we will really be focusing on that," Mr Miles said.
To join the SES, visit the website.
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