Camping Emergency 000

The scream pierced the air. I’d been immersed in my magazine with the only sounds being the noisy croaking frogs coming from the river below.

I thought someone had seen a snake. But the second scream was blood curdling. I jumped up, jolted out of my lazy afternoon.

We were camped at Warburton Bridge last weekend, on the banks of the peaceful Loddon River, an overnight getaway with friends. And our quiet ordinary day was about to be turned on its heels.

As I ran behind our camper I saw the flames. Plumes of intense fire metres high, just feet from their van. The generator was on fire and the van was alight.

A man was standing, dressed in shorts, singlet and thongs, trying to extinguish it.  His partner, the woman screaming, was hysterical.

I registered all this in an instant, yelled “fire” and darted back to our campsite calling for help and fire extinguishers.

Within seconds everyone sprang into action. By the time I got back to the site he’d caught alight, rolled onto the ground, into survival mode, doing the right thing, trying to minimise the burns. Keeping his mouth closed to keep the fumes from his lungs.

We got him away from the fire and once he was safe our mate and fellow camper Greg, an experienced firefighter with the MFB (Metropolitan Fire Brigade) took charge of the fire. Always on duty it seems.

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We found out later the man had been trying to refuel his generator with petrol near the caravan and the pilot light from the inside fridge had ignited the fumes causing an explosion.

Nearby campers raced over to help. One was a trainee nurse and it wasn’t long before water appeared from everywhere, bottles of water, a tub of water for his arm to be plunged into. There was water flowing as we all did our bit to keep his body cool.

He was severely burnt.

Greg had rung 000 emergency and handed me the phone. As I gave them all the details I also spoke to the man, Joe, trying to keep him calm and reassure him that help was on the way.

He was coherent but clearly in a lot of pain and slowly going into shock.

It was a relief when the cavalry arrived.

And they arrived in their droves. Two fire trucks, the paramedics, police crews.  That’s our camper in the background.

It didn’t take long for an assessment to be made. There was to be no road trip to hospital. He needed to get there quickly.

It was to be a trip by air.

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The road was blocked off by the police in readiness for the landing. It wasn’t long before the $21 million dollar air ambulance helicopter made its presence felt.

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It was a precision manoeuver on the other side of the bridge from our campsite.

He was in good hands and within 25 minutes from take off would land at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, one of the best burn units in the state.

It proved how easily things can turn nasty. Accidents take only a split second.

A day that had been peaceful and ordinary had turned so quickly into one of disaster.

But it could have been far worse.  I’m grateful we were there to help. I shudder to think of the outcome had they been alone.

It made me think about our upcoming big trip next year, the remoteness of the outback and the need to be mindful and prepared.

Some simple tips and lessons learnt this weekend:

  1. Be very careful with petrol. Always refuel at least five metres away from any ignition source.
  2. Have a fire extinguisher on stand by. Check and maintain them regularly.
  3. Carry plenty of water
  4. It’s crucial to have proper communication. You never know when you’ll need it.
  5. In the event of a fire contact 000 immediately (in Australia) and 911 (in the USA)

I was also reminded that kindness and good will is not lost. The amount of people who offered their skills, water and help was heartwarming.

To all my fellow campers and travelers out there, be mindful and stay safe.

Happy and safe travels, where ever you are.

Postscript:  I’ve been in touch with Joe’s family. His burns were severe but after a couple of weeks in hospital and a number of skin graft operations he’s now home again, healing and on the road to recovery.  I send him our warmest wishes. 


107 thoughts on “Camping Emergency 000

  1. omg thank goodness Joe is okay. that’s so scary! thanks for the safety tips – which were a good reminder for me to read even though I’m not a big camper right now. My boyfriend and I are planning a trip for next year though. –jess

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Miriam, when I saw the feature photo and saw the title I thought Now what? Glad it wasn’t you or yours. But glad that you were all there to help and that you were able to remain calm and function in this scenario. Some people freeze.

    All that aside how frightening and awful. Good tips. Stay safe Louise. X

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The man was so lucky there were other people nearby to help and that the emergency services were able to respond so quickly. Hopefully he will make a good recovery in time. Thank you for sharing the lessons learned and it is great you were all able to help.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Oh my goodness, how scary! I can’t imagine how frightened those poor people must have been! I’m so glad you were there to help and offer support and comfort.

    I am also thankful you were not hurt in any way.

    *hugs* ❤

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks Sandra, he was in a bad way and I have memories of what happened and his burns but I think because everyone pitched in and helped it’s numbed me a bit. Bur I’m okay.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. How horrible! Thank goodness you and your husband thought so quickly, and that the first responders were able to get there so quickly. It is a good reminder to us all to stay vigilant.
    When tragedy strikes, it always humbles me to realize just how easily and quickly catastrophes can happen. But it is also affirming to see first hand how people step forward to help, expecting nothing in return. Despite all we hear, there is still a lot of good in this world. Thanks for sharing this post, Miriam. And I hope that you are okay….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ann and you’re right, there is still a lot of good in this world, it’s just that the media prefers to highlight the bad and the ugly. It seems to be human nature though for people to step up and help, in this case it made all the difference .

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Miriam, my heart was racing reading your post. He was lucky to have so many capable and expert people on hand to help straightaway…glad he got to hospital so quickly. An exciting day for you all, one you do not want – shows how fragile our lives are, can turn on a moment. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This gave me the chills as I read this post. So glad you and your fellow campers could assist. I will keep Joe in my prayers, that he will heal with minimal pain. We once wanted to build/buy a cabin in the woods for retirement, but then began thinking about medical emergencies (the husband has A-Fib) if we lived far away from services. One never knows about emergencies and how or if people will be there to help. Still feeling the chills…..but glad it wasn’t worse. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Karen and I can totally understand what you said. Its always a factor when you’re out in the middle of nowhere, that concern of What if something happens. In our case I’m just glad they weren’t alone and we were all there to help.

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  8. Oh no! I hope the guy is safe and feeling much much much less pain now…sometimes it may seem like the burnt skin outside is okay but still not okay in the inner layer…good thing there are other people who were able to help and the assistance was quick!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m glad that guy is going to be ok. I go camping quite a bit (in tents etc) but I don’t generally have an extinguisher with me. I guess I should look into getting a small one to pack in the camping kit just in case!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh my goodness! Thank goodness you were at a busy campsite and there were so many people around to help. And thank goodness that everyone came together with there unique skills and was able to rally under the pressure. This is both a terrible and an incredible story. It is certainly a humbling story and a reminder to be mindful and attentive at all times, but even then, unexpected things can happen (“that’s why they’re called accidents” one of my friends tells me when I am too overly self-critical). Glad you were able to help and that everyone else was safe, and glad that Joe is out of the hospital and expected to do well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lulu, yes accidents happen don’t they, to all of us and sometimes all it takes is a split second and a moment of not concentrating. Joe was very lucky, in hindsight, that there were so many of us around. It was certainly a memorable camping experience, that’s for sure. Take care my lovely friend. Hope to get across to your blog soon. xo

      Liked by 1 person

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