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Don’s race to Timor
Don Garlick was only 19 when he survived a burnover while fighting the Warburton Ash Wednesday fire.
Since that first experience, Don has been on the front lines at Black Saturday, Riddles Creek, Scotsburn and on two deployments to New South Wales, among other campaigns.
Now the Wendouree 5th Lieutenant and 28-year CFA volunteer is preparing to take this experience to one of the world’s most gruelling sporting events, the Tour de Timor mountain bike race.
Don is travelling to Timor not as a cyclist but in an emergency service capacity with an Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT). It’s a chance for the Central Victorian to combine his front line CFA experience and his role as Ballarat Health Services’ Manager of Emergency Management.
“AUSMAT came to life after the first Bali bombing. AUSMAT uses the Tour to test and train teams in medical nursing and logistics in really tough conditions. It’s especially valuable for teams who are yet to be deployed to a disaster zone. It’s also a great way to support the Timorese,” says Don.
The deployment is a real M*A*S*H operation, with medical and logistics teams moving ahead of the cyclists, setting up and pulling down resuscitation tents every day of the race. In these they will deal with daily cases of dehydration, heat stroke, saddle sores as well the accidents that are part and parcel of this four-day slog.
Don sees his CFA experience as vital to his deployment. “As a volunteer on strike teams, you’re used to going into high-pressure, high-stakes environments and managing as best as you can in the early stages of big fires.
“We’ll be going into very austere conditions in Timor. It’s not totally dissimilar to some of the mountain terrain of Victoria. Put it this way, you certainly can’t hop off and drive to the milk bar.”
The Tour de Timor runs from September 13-17.