Meet Mitchell Hockley, WA VFRS Volunteer

Published on Tuesday, 20 December 2022 at 9:38:14 AM

Meet Mitchell Hockley, WA VFRS Volunteer

Story and images by SERENA KIRBY

For 17-year-old Mitchell Hockley volunteering runs in his blood. He’s a third generation member of Denmark’s Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service (VFRS) having joined his long-serving father and grandfather in the organisation a year ago.

“Regardless of my family’s involvement I think I’d have volunteered anyway,” Mitchell says.

“I’ve been in Denmark all my life so it’s a way of giving back to the community I’ve grown up in and helping people is a really satisfying thing to do. It’s also fun and very interesting. No emergency is the same and your training is all about knowing what works best for each situation.

“I’m trained in fire and rescue techniques, first aid and I did Emergency Service Cadets through high school. I’m also a member of the Navy Cadets and have my Duke of Edinburgh Award silver medallion which involved a lot of volunteering and skills development.”

As Mitchell is still considered a junior member, providing behind-the-scenes support and receiving training in emergency response techniques, are key components of what he currently does. Even with working full time at the local pharmacy he spends several hours a week practising and preparing for the range of emergencies the VFRS respond to.

“We get called out to incidents that threaten life and property. It could be a home or building fire, a hazardous material emergency, a road crash rescue or someone trapped in a building. We also support the bushfire brigades, the SES and the local ambulance service.”

While Mitchell is trained to attend car accidents the crew’s captain (his Dad) chooses not to send juniors to attend this type of traumatic incident. But, when Mitchell turns 18, he’ll be included in the full scope of emergency response situations.

“I’ve already put my fire fighting training into action as I’ve attended several scrub fires and a catastrophic house fire. Whatever the emergency, it’s upsetting knowing that it’s happening to someone who’s quite innocent but you have to learn how to put that behind you.”

Mitchell is humble when asked about receiving recognition for what he does and says, “Just having someone thank you at the scene is recognition enough.”

He’d also like to encourage more young people to consider volunteering.

“There’s so many different volunteer groups and you don’t have to do frontline jobs if you’re not up for it. There’s loads of support roles that can be just as rewarding. The groups are always happy for you to just go along and have a look. No one is going to judge you or be annoyed if you don’t join up. But, hey, you’ll never know if you never look.”

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