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A veteran firefighter's thoughts
Bob Bassett, Deputy Group Officer with Tambo group, has encountered many reactions across a number of communities, and he decided to share some thoughts that may help others understand that we all share in the trauma of fires and other emergencies.
"Be it Ash Wednesday, Black Saturday, the lightning strikes and statewide fires earlier this year, the loss of the family home, the tragedy of car crashes or any other disaster:
The calls go out, the warnings come, we respond again and again.
Each fire storm will destroy and then go, leaving behind devastation, distress and trauma for us all to deal with in our own way.
To those communities and individuals who have lost loved ones, family, friends, colleagues and cherished possessions; to those who have lost property, businesses or their livelihood; to those who face more anguish, the pain of healing and the concern of how to go about the recovery process:
We don't begin to know how you feel, but we share it with each of you.. We can't imagine the pain and loss you are suffering, but we are suffering with you.
To our fellow firefighters and colleagues in other agencies, many of whom we don't know, we can't imagine how you feel or what you've been through during these awful times. You have seen and experienced what no one should have to endure.
Well done for all that you've saved. Well done for the support and ongoing commitment you so selflessly give.
Yes, we've been there over the years; we've had our hard times too. yes, we've survived and we've moved on. But we will never forget.
We too have shared the fight through many of these fires and disasters across Gippsland and beyond over many years.
We too have suffered terrible losses, destruction and emotional hurt, so, to all the victims, families, friends and colleagues, we offer our heartfelt thoughts, condolences and support.
We endure the red eyes from smoke, ash, lack of sleep and desperation.
We endure the red eyes from grief, pain and distress.
We will grieve with you, we will heal with you and move on. that's what we do!
For those who have not been through these hard times, we say take notice of the Warnings, prepare your fire plans, make sound decisions to stay and defend or LEAVE EARLY.
Bob Bassett, DGO