Most days Lynton Free is at the Circular Head depot of the Tasmanian State Emergency Service, tinkering around trucks or brushing up on his knowledge.
The unit manager of the Circular Head branch recently received an Emergency Services Medal in the Australia Day 2019 Honours List.
The Meritorious Award recognises Lynton’s involvement in the local service for more than a quarter of a century as well as his 11 years with Ambulance Tasmania.
As Circular Head SES unit manager for the past 18 months, and deputy unit manager for five years before that, Lynton is a proven leader who continues to extend his knowledge.
“No two jobs are the same,” he says.
“I’m learning every day, still learning. I’ll never say I know it all because I never will.”
Lynton leads a team of 18, covering the area from Sandy Cape to Flowerdale.
“It was an eye-opener,” he says of starting out.
“I didn’t know what to expect at first.”
This is still the case too, says Lynton, with each day bringing a new challenge.
“When the pager is activated, you don’t know what you’re going to get,” he says.
The Circular Head crew is often the first on the scene of an incident, along with other emergency services: “And the seconds do count.”
To prepare for all sorts of situations, Lynton runs the team through weekly training drills and is continually striving to learn more himself.
He has been involved in numerous road crash rescue challenges, including in the winning team of the International Rescue Down Under challenge in ’99.
When Cyclone Yasi hit far north Queensland in 2011, Lynton was among a crew of Tasmanians to lend a helping hand. He has also taken part in a number of fundraising efforts at the local station which have allowed for the purchase of additional equipment for the rescue vehicles. He says support from Circular Head Council in the budget each year, allows the unit to be up to date with equipment and training programs.
While family life, owning a business and volunteering is at times a juggling act, Lynton says he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Everyone has a different attribute to add to the community,” he says.
“This is my thing to give back.”
To find out more about becoming a volunteer with the Circular Head SES unit, chat to Lynton Free on 0400 797 620.
Circular Head SES unit manager Lynton Free’s contributions have been recognised with a national Emergency Services Medal. Picture: Ashleigh Force.