Plett fireman faces biggest challenge ever
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.”
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.