News & Media

Another Lesson Learnt

By: Robert Bury

  11.00 AM 15 July, 2011

Views: 6855


Another lesson learnt - Things never quite turn out how you expect them to.

I was about to get into my car after finishing work for the day, it was 18:06 to be precise, when the pager Gods decided that it was time for another callout.

At a glance I could see it was a Code 1 job "Smell of Gas".

As I work 30 odd kilometres from the station with a travel time of around 45 minutes on a good day I would not get there in time to do any good, or so I thought. It would all be over by the time I get there. No stress, we have a great group of volunteers who should be able to cover this.

Into the car, off I go, flicking through the songs on the IPod when again the pager breaks in.

I fight the impulse to read the pager as I'm driving and at the next set of lights see that it's a second page to the same job. Something's going on

I'm torn between dropping in at the station or going home where I know my very understanding wife will have a lovingly prepared dinner for me (She is an excellent cook)

I decide that the station is on the way home (well nearly) so it won't hurt to see if all is ok.

To my surprise I see fewer cars than I expected, yet both trucks and the brigade car had responded. Then I wonder if we really have enough crew at the job.

Using a portable radio at the station I attempt to contact the Captain with no response; it sounds ominous as they must be busy.

 I try the mobile and manage to get through. Things are not as they should be. In that brief conversation I learn that I will not be going home for dinner. It's now 18:47 and the crews will be on scene for another 30 minutes or so. While there is no need to go into the details here, those of you who understand will have an idea of what has transpired.

Suffice to say I'm tasked to setup for a debrief. The CIS Peer has already been contacted by the Captain and is on his way. Also to arrange some nourishment for the crews, none of whom have yet had dinner. I arrange some hot food (the new Pizza Shop is very accommodating) and prepare the station for the returning crews

Some of our members are visibly distressed; it's comforting to see the others look after them. 

The debrief goes well. The CIS Peer has spoken to the group and then counsels some people privately. (Tough gig being a CIS peer I decide.)

Yet we still have things to do. There are 4 BA cylinders to be refilled at an Integrated Station nearby. A forty minute round trip plus the filling; so about an hour all up, and I decide to leave the crews to their chatter and attend to this task..

It's reassuring that the Station Officer filling the BA cylinders wanted to make sure our guys were ok. He and the others at their station had been listening to the radio as the job unfolded and knew that this was a difficult incident.

I get home 3 hours later than expected; a knowing look on my wife's face. No questions asked she is aware I've been to the station. (She is not a Psychic but she does have an Iphone with its many applications for getting information) Dinners already covered and ready to be nuked in the microwave. It's good to get home (Thanks Darling for your understanding and fantastic cooking)

 So, some lessons learned for me at least:

  • The job isn't finished until everyone gets home.
  • If I can, I will respond as things aren't always as expected
  • If I'm troubled I will seek help - you're not a hero if you don't and you're not a coward if you do


Peer Support can be contacted as follows

CISM Peer Program - contact your Regional Peer Coordinator

Chaplains & Psychologists (Converge International)             1800 337 068

Counsellors & Psychologists (PPC Worldwide)                     1300 361 008

CFA after hours welfare support                                            1800 628 616

Brigades Online - go to the member welfare page


beyondblue info line                                                               1300 22 4636

Lifeline                                                                                    13 11 14

Suicide Helpline Victoria                                                        1300 651 251

Kids Help Line (free call)                                                       1800 55 1800

Mensline                                                                                  1300 789 978

Last Updated: 10 December 2015