Monday, 9 February 2009

Getting out

In the course of doing research some years ago I interviewed a young man who had done a remarkable thing.
At a mere 12 years of age he was home with his 9 yr old sister when they were warned of the need to get out because of a bushfire in the next valley. His parents were out. He and his sister calmly packed the second family car with the contents of his father's filing cabinet and their animals (a cat, dog and several angora rabbits). His sister emptied the freezer compartment of ice to keep the animals as cool as possible and added water for themselves. This boy, who had never driven a car off the property before - and only twice on it under supervision, then proceeded to drive slowly out of the fire zone because he rightly judged that his parents would not be able to reach them after all. When he reached a checkpoint the police had to get him to drive on until they were out of the danger zone.
Somewhat older he admitted to me that the experience was terrifying. He still had nightmares about it. He had waited two years beyond the age he could have got his licence to drive simply because the experience had made him acutely aware of the enormous responsibility involved.
This boy and his sister had been well trained. They knew precisely what they needed to do in the emergency and they did it.
We need more training like this. If there had been there may not have been the horrendous loss of life in Victoria over the last few days.
When they catch the arsonists responsible they should be incarcerated for life with hard labour.

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