Queen's Birthday 2019 Honours List: Gerry de Vries from Wauchope awarded OAM

Helping others: Gerry de Vries feels humbled to be recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Helping others: Gerry de Vries feels humbled to be recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Service to the community through emergency response organisations has earned Gerry de Vries a Queen's Birthday Honours List accolade.

The Wauchope resident was recognised with an OAM.

Mr de Vries' paid and voluntary commitment to emergency response organisations over almost 50 years has spanned Fire and Rescue NSW, NSW Ambulance, the Rural Fire Service and State Emergency Service.

He was recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours List alongside four others across the Hastings - Alan Morris (AM), Bruce Cant (OAM), Robyn Coombes (OAM) and Edna Lamb (OAM).

"I feel very humbled and honoured to be recognised for what I've done," Mr de Vries said.

"It's totally unexpected."

The year 1970 marked Mr de Vries' entry into the emergency services field when he became a permanent firefighter with Fire and Rescue NSW in Sydney.

A career change four years later resulted in Mr de Vries joining the NSW Ambulance.

"Working in the fire brigade, I got that drive to do a bit more on the medical side of things," he said.

Mr de Vries became a paramedic and devoted almost 20 years to the profession.

Gerry de Vries has been a member of the Wauchope SES Unit since 2010.

Gerry de Vries has been a member of the Wauchope SES Unit since 2010.

The Sydney Hilton Hotel bombing in 1978 and the 1989 Newcastle earthquake were among the major incidents which Mr de Vries responded to during his time with the NSW Ambulance.

He joined the Belrose Bushfire Brigade as a volunteer while working as a paramedic.

A new career direction saw Mr de Vries appointed Rural Fire Service fire control officer at Cowra, followed by a stint as fire control officer at Armidale.

Mr de Vries became SES volunteer local controller for the Maclean Shire after a move to Yamba.

Then in 2010, Mr de Vries relocated to Wauchope and joined the Wauchope SES Unit where he is currently deputy unit commander, while about 12 months ago he became a member of the Wauchope Rural Fire Brigade.

"The ethos in Australia about how we help each other is unique in the world," he said.

Mr de Vries enjoys being part of that.

"You get a satisfaction out of going out and helping people," he said.

"Having had that training and experience in the paid services, now I'm retired I don't want to throw that away.

"Having those skills, I like to keep using them and keep active, and I still enjoy the camaraderie of all the volunteers."

Mr de Vries said his emergency services involvement had been very rewarding.

"I need to thank my parents for bringing me to Australia [from Belgium] and the support I've always received from my wife Kathleen and immediate family," he said.

Dominic Morgan (NSW Ambulance), Mark Smethurst (NSW State Emergency Service), Gerry de Vries, Paul Baxter (Fire and Rescue NSW) and Shane Fitzsimmons (NSW Rural Fire Service) at the NSW Emergency Services Community Awards 2017.

Dominic Morgan (NSW Ambulance), Mark Smethurst (NSW State Emergency Service), Gerry de Vries, Paul Baxter (Fire and Rescue NSW) and Shane Fitzsimmons (NSW Rural Fire Service) at the NSW Emergency Services Community Awards 2017.

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This story Decades of dedication to emergency services recognised with OAM first appeared on Port Macquarie News.

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