P­lett fi­re­man fa­ces big­ge­st chal­len­ge e­ver

Knysna-Plett Herald - - Voorblad - Yo­lan­dé S­tan­der

A long ro­ad to re­co­ve­ry a­waits a P­let­ten­berg Bay vo­lun­teer fi­re­fig­h­ter who was se­ri­ous­ly in­ju­red w­hi­le batt­ling a bla­ze in Har­ker­vil­le on F­ri­day 1 Sep­tem­ber.

The 52-y­e­ar-old Ol­lie O­li­vier, a mem­ber of a lo­cal fi­re ma­na­ge­ment u­nit (FMU), was at­ten­ding to a struc­tu­ral fi­re w­hen a por­ti­on of a shed col­lap­sed on him.

O­li­vier, who is re­cei­ving tre­at­ment in ICU in a Mos­sel Bay hos­pi­tal, suf­fe­red se­ve­re he­ad in­ju­ries, mul­ti­ple frac­tu­res to se­ver­al ver­te­brae in his neck and burn wounds.

His wi­fe Lor­rai­ne said her hus­band had re­cei­ved a call du­ring the e­ar­ly hours of F­ri­day mor­ning a­bout a fi­re on a neig­hbour’s pro­per­ty in Har­ker­vil­le.

O­li­vier and ot­her FMU mem­bers re­spon­ded and star­ted dou­sing the fla­mes w­hi­le wai­ting for Bi­tou fi­re­fig­h­ters, who had a furt­her dis­tan­ce to tra­vel to get to the sce­ne.

“Ol­lie was ho­sing do­wn the shed from the out­si­de w­hen a part of the roof of the struc­tu­re ca­me crashing do­wn on top of him,” Lor­rai­ne said.

By the ti­me she ar­ri­ved, O­li­vier was al­re­a­dy in an am­bu­lan­ce re­a­dy to be ta­ken to hos­pi­tal, she said. He was un­con­s­ci­ous.

“Doc­tors found he had la­ce­ra­ti­ons to his he­ad, se­ver­al frac­tu­res to ver­te­brae in his neck, burns a­cross his bo­dy and bleeding on the brain.”

Lor­rai­ne said her hus­band is in the hos­pi­tal’s ICU un­der he­a­vy se­da­ti­on.

“We are in­cre­di­bly thank­ful that he is still a­li­ve, that he can still mo­ve and that he should re­co­ver ful­ly. He e­ven still has his sen­se of hu­mour alt­hough he is very grog­gy.”

She said he re­mem­bers e­ver­y­thing up until the mo­ment of the in­ci­dent. “He e­ven knows w­hat work he had sche­du­led for the week.”

Lor­rai­ne said she has been o­ver­w­hel­med by the sup­port from the P­lett com­mu­ni­ty. “It re­al­ly has been in­cre­di­ble.”

O­li­vier be­ca­me the thi­rd P­lett vo­lun­teer fi­re­fig­h­ter in­ju­red on du­ty sin­ce the Ju­ne fi­res in Knys­na and P­let­ten­berg Bay.

On 9 Ju­ne the 24-y­e­ar-old Brad­ley Ri­chards succum­bed to in­ju­ries in the Ge­or­ge Me­di­cli­nic af­ter he and fel­low fi­re­fig­h­ter Ian Bar­nard we­re en­gul­fed in fla­mes in the Har­ker­vil­le a­rea w­hi­le batt­ling one of the in­fer­nos at the ti­me.

Bar­nard al­so sus­tai­ned se­ri­ous burn wounds trying to sa­ve Ri­chards. He is still re­co­ve­ring from t­he­se in­ju­ries, which in­clu­ded burns to his he­ad and hands. Both men we­re mem­bers of the P­let­ten­berg Bay FMU South.

On Tu­es­day e­ve­ning 5 Sep­tem­ber, Lor­rai­ne O­li­vier pos­ted the fol­lo­wing on so­ci­al me­dia:

“Ol­lie has been trans­fer­red to ge­ne­ral ward. They are doing a­not­her CT scan on F­ri­day. Will be the­re for a­bout a­not­her week.”

P­ho­to: Sup­p­lied

Ol­lie O­li­vier is ex­pected to ma­ke a full re­co­ve­ry, despite the ma­ny se­ri­ous in­ju­ries sus­tai­ned w­hi­le he was ho­sing do­wn a bur­ning shed in Har­ker­vil­le on F­ri­day 1 Sep­tem­ber, and a part of the struc­tu­re col­lap­sed on him.

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