When they jump out of their beds in the middle of the night or step away from what they're doing during the day to pull on their orange uniforms and respond to an emergency, they do so with the support of their crew and loved ones.
Hepburn Shire Victoria State Emergency Service volunteer, deputy controller Emily Pullen, knows this all too well.
The highly respected volunteer has had a long and trying year, after being diagnosed with both a neurological and auto-immune disorder in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
She joined the SES several years ago, with a desire to give back to her community.
"[I] saw the SES provided a broad service in emergency response: assist ambulance and police; search for missing persons; swift water rescue; safe working at heights for rooftop building damage; managing traffic and of course chainsaw qualifications as we live in the middle of a forest and there are so many trees that fall over roads," she said.
But rather than jumping on and off the truck, which she loves, the volunteer of five years was forced to press pause on her hands-on volunteering role this year to receive further treatment.
It's been a hard year for me, diagnosed with two serious medical issues in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemicEmily Pullen
"It's been a hard year for me, diagnosed with two serious medical issues in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic," Ms Pullen said.
"I would usually get out on a VICSES truck to help people - but that just hasn't happened."
She has also stepped away from her Deputy Controller role within the unit - which involves planning and running weekly meetings and training sessions, managing new recruit enquiries, onboarding and training, budgeting and submitting grant applications, asset management and community engagement outside Covid-19 restrictions - while she receives treatment.
But unable to completely remove herself from the SES, Ms Pullen has taken on the less demanding role of Duty Officer this year.
"I have still wanted to contribute during my illness so have taken on the role of Duty Officer when I'm able," Ms Pullen told The Courier.
This sees her liaise with ESTA to triage jobs by priority and the skills required on the ground - managing call-outs and ensuring the safety of crews.
Ms Pullen loves the camaraderie within her SES crew. This has really shone through this year, especially while she has been ill.
Her fellow VICSES volunteers have stepped up to take on key tasks, such as call-outs and funding applications, while she undergoes treatment.
"Knowing that whatever job we turn out to, we have each other's backs. I have met people within the unit that I probably never would have crossed paths with otherwise and can call them real friends," she said.
And behind every hard-working volunteer stands a network of support people. While they don't wear the uniform themselves, their sacrifices are just as important.
Ms Pullen's wife, Katie, has been working seven days a week to keep the family's small gardening and maintenance business afloat this year.
"[Katie's] a wonderful person and has allowed me to be an active VICSES volunteer for the last five years and spend 2020 recovering and volunteering behind the scenes," Ms Pullen said.
With all her family in South Australia, Ms Pullen is extremely grateful for her wife and "second family" - the Hepburn Shire SES unit - for their support this year, adding they had all been "profoundly patient and caring".
Hepburn Controller Brad Climie said Ms Pullen was a "fantastic" asset to the unit and he "couldn't do it without her".
He chose her as his deputy despite her only having a couple of years experience in the SES as she works so tirelessly and is so community-minded.
"She runs her own businesses but will still drop whatever she's doing during the day to go back to it," he said, adding she was very humble about the work she does.
"She has the respect of everyone in the unit and we couldn't do it without her.
"She is friends with everyone - not just making sure everyone is alright when we're working in the unit but in their lives too."
The unit averages about 200-250 call-outs a year, and she attends about half of those.
Ms Pullen said she had learnt the value of patience this year, as well as "the importance of having family, friends and a great support network".
Ms Pullen took the opportunity to thank her wife and fellow unit members as part of the SES' 'Your Family, Our Family' campaign.