Volunteer firefighters and their value

volunteer firefighters at a bushfire

Volunteer firefighters are a necessary part of the community here in Australia.

Why?

Because bushfires in Australia are a part of life in the summer. They can be caused by

  • a lightning strike,
  • by peoples’ carelessness,
  • or by that most despicable of creatures… the firebug.

Lightning and firebugs

The first is unpredictable, and the second – I would prefer not to say anything other than what I called those people before… the most despicable of creatures.

There is a ‘profile ‘a serial firebug here… https://www.theage.com.au/national/profile-inside-the-mind-of-a-firebug-20080113-ge6lnh.html

Our part: If we see something suspicious, call the police

approach of bushfite
(c) Christy-Lee Williams, 2019; Used by permission

Carelessness

Are you a smoker? Have you ever thrown away a cigarette and stood on it to put it out? They don’t always go out.

On a city street, chances are they will only be litter.

Annoying but they probably do not cause damage. In the bush though the smallest bit of heat can smolder and start a fire.

Unchecked it could become an inferno.

See last week’s post on how far the embers travel in advance of a fire.
Australia Burns

What about camping in the bush?

Ever done that? If it is in the period of a total fire ban, do you obey it? Do you even know about total fire bans and what they mean?

Even if there is not a total fire ban in place, if you cook where you are camping do you make sure any fire, or BBQ is completely out before you move away?

There are many ways to be careless when walking in the bush, all of us need to be aware of our actions… and the possible consequences.

Our part: Learn the rules and keep them.

By the way, the bush can be a small patch of bushland between suburbs. I remember a few years ago when a college and the college residences were under threat from a bushfire. There was a patch of bushland one side of the road, burning. The fire jumped the road and came perilously close to some of the college residences. The cause? A homeless man had been camping in the patch of bush.

Another type of carelessness

The people who do not move out of the way of emergency vehicles. Do you know there are rules about giving way to emergency vehicles – and penalties for not keeping those rules?

https://roadrules.rsc.wa.gov.au/road-rules/emergency-vehicles

Then there is another kind… but is it carelessness or selfishness? The spectators who want to watch the drama unfold.

These people put themselves in the way of the firefighters, hampering them, and in many cases putting their own lives at risk. Watch it on TV. The media, who have permission to be there, know the rules and the conditions of the fire scene. They keep those rules, or if they don’t, will not be allowed at the next fire scene.

Our part: Keep out of the way, let the people do their jobs.

It is difficult enough for them without dealing with ignorance or selfishness.

One of the volunteer firefighters

Volunteer firefighter after her shift
(c) copyright. Christy-Lee Williams, 2019; Used by permission

What if this was your daughter?

Or son, boyfriend, father, mother, girlfriend, husband or wife. They risk their lives to save the properties of others. In some instances a firefighter has lost his/her own home while off saving the property of others. It has happened here in Western Australia… and, I guess, many other places.

From an article by the wife of a volunteer firefighter…

“I wonder if the Prime Minister has considered what would happen if the volunteers just decided not to go. Or what will happen when they are all exhausted, worn down, emotionally frayed and unable to go back. Of course they will have already gone back several times after they reach this point because there is nobody else to go.”
Used with permission. Full article here… https://smarterthancrows.wordpress.com/2019/12/10/no-scott-morrison-my-husband-does-not-want-to-be-fighting-fires-this-summer/?fbclid=IwAR2r_-Nj51JlLPXbfnqAzFmoCtinFVhDYDBDFHAVOXgnSfK_Cq9NKw9_qLs

She also mentions the reality all the family and friends of the firefighters face… the firefighter might not come home.

And that happened last week.

Two volunteer firefighters killed while fighting fires

This was in New South Wales, not here in Western Australia. However, most of us mourn over the cost they paid to be volunteers.

https://au.news.yahoo.com/two-firefighters-dead-bushfires-close-in-sydney-nsw-195445715.html?utm_source=Campaign_Monitor&utm_medium=Edm&utm_campaign=DailySnap_Newsletter&utm_term=DailySnap_Newsletter&ncid=dailysnapshotau_dailysnaps_yaptekbs7gs

They were men with young children.

And if it is true that the Prime Minister said that they could choose not to go…

All I want to say is there would be little of Australia left without volunteer firefighters. These people have a sense of responsibility and community that would put many of our politicians to shame.

Fire truck and approaching bush fire
(c) copyright Christy-Lee Williams 2019; Used by permission

When I asked Christy about the time of day the pictures were taken, here is her reply…

“i went out there the first day (2.30-11.30) and again the second day (8.30 am – 8.30pm) so its both night and day”

Christy is a nineteen year old girl, she’s been doing this for four years that I remember. Her brother is also a volunteer firefighter. They follow the path set by their parents.

These are the heroes we should respect. Allow them to do their jobs… it may be YOUR home they protect next.

Bushfires are again devastating several States, and firefighters are exhausted.

Our part: Pray for them, and their families.

Susan

Note: All images in this post are copyright photographs taken by Christy-Lee Williams 2019 and are used by permission.

Bushfires and the Vulnerable

Season for bushfires

I read an article on the bushfires, one which gave me pause to think in a deeper way. Currently making the headlines are bushfires in New South Wales, Australia. Two people have died as well as the homes which have been destroyed… and more. California has fires too, and it was an article about those fires which broadened my understanding.

People lose homes, stock (animals) and equipment, but the article pointed out the long period of time without power. Food can spoil, shops lose their stock, the vulnerable – those who are dependent on electricity to run medical equipment can lose their lives.

Bushfires burn out power lines

Because I need to use oxygen 24/7 power outages are something I have to plan for. My home is registered as having life-support equipment, and I have a backup oxygen cylinder but it had not occurred to me what would happen in a bushfire situation. The backup cylinder would not last more than half a day.

Fortunately, a bushfire is unlikely where I live, although not impossible. But what about those people living where there are fires? If they are unable to make it to a hospital which has enough oxygen they will die.

“But the biggest fears were for the sick and older residents and those who rely on medical devices and equipment like electric wheelchairs.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/10/us/california-power-outage.html

firemen after a bushfire

Preparing high risk bushfire zones…

“Every year before bushfire season, our crews are hard at work preparing high and extreme bushfire risk zones to reduce the likelihood of a network-related spark that could cause a fire.
https://westernpower.com.au/safety/bushfire-safety/

However, it is not only residents in high risk zones who might be impacted by a power outage as the result of a bushfire. As the article says, some of the regional power lines are hundreds of kilometres long. So, if you, or a friend or relative needs electricity to power medical equipment, or a home oxygen machine an emergency plan needs to be in place before one is needed. Plan ahead.

  • Ambulances might be busy
  • The nearest hospital might not have power

Only the person who needs electricity for a medical reason knows how long he or she will ‘last,’ but might need help with the planning.

Something to think about,

Susan

P.S.

Living at the end of an Oxygen Tube has a new cover.

Check it out https://www.susanprestonauthor.com/living-at-the-end-of-an-oxygen-tube

And another P.S. so it will be a PPS

https://kcbsradio.radio.com/media/audio-channel/el-dorado-county-man-living-oxygen-dies-shortly-after-blackout

Fortunately there was a bench there

Bench

The bench was in the small local shopping centre and my breathing was ‘about to give out’. I used the oximeter and the saturation of oxygen in my blood was below 50. Impossible, some would say… but not if you work in the Respiratory field. Still not good.

A little indigenous Australian woman sat on the other end of the bench and, when I could I gasped out a greeting. She was sitting checking a ‘scratchie’ – I don’t know what other people call them, but to us here in Western Australia that’s what they are. Tickets that have areas to be scratched off with a coin in the hope of winning a sum of money.

The woman was pleased, and said to me a few minutes later, “You brought me luck, I’ve won $20.00,” and went off happily to claim her money.

I sat on the bench waiting for my oxygen level to come up enough for me to be able to walk.

No ambulance for me; the hospitals are full of ‘flu victims. I doubt if there would be an ambulance available.

https://www.watoday.com.au/national/western-australia/emergency-department-staff-concerns-not-my-responsibility-wa-health-minister-20190314-p5149z.html

No, I waited until I could walk again.

My little shopping centre has more than one bench

To be honest, most times I go there, I travel from bench to bench. I’ve met many interesting people as I recovered my breath on one of them. Some people had back pain, others were breathless, but I have never sat beside another oxygen user.

(As I explain in my soon-to-be-released eBook, Living at the end of an Oxygen Tube, not everyone who has COPD or Heart Failure is prescribed oxygen.)

Click (or tap) the image if you want to read the page about it.

Why so bad today?

I can only assume it was the ash from the bushfires. (Strange time of year for them here, but the freeway south had to be closed for a time.)
https://www.perthnow.com.au/news/bushfires

Yesterday (Thursday) was very windy and I kept the doors open so that my oxygen concentrator had some fresh air. (To extract the nitrogen from.)

But I was in my study working on putting ‘Living at the end of an Oxygen Tube into a print template’… and that’s time-consuming. When I took a break in the afternoon to watch a quiz show I like, I noticed there was a film of dust on the table as I walked past. I had only cleaned it the day before.

When the quiz was over, I turned off the TV and my Support Worker arrived, complaining of the ash in the air.

The suburb where the fire was burning is a long way from where I live but that wind must have been driving the ash. Maxine had to wash the ash from the surfaces it had gathered on. It was sticky and did not want to be dusted off. I tried.

The filter for the concentrator had to be washed, but for the time until it dried – the house has been quiet. Just the puffing as I take a breath from the Portable one.

Well, it is time to do my next task, and I am posting this early because I am busy this weekend.

God bless you all… and may you find a bench to sit on when you need one.

Susan