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Column F o c u s o n S a fet y by Geof f Good yea r In Case of Fire… How does one behave when confronted with an emergency or potential disaster? I am sure we would all hope to maintain a stoic presence complete with stiff upper lip. We spend a lot of time dreaming up disaster scenarios and how best to deal with them and then train for them. But until faced with the reality of an emergency, we can only guess as to how we may behave. One might expect this anecdote to draw on some helicopter-centric fire suppression event, but no; I will draw on an example set by my own father some years ago at our home in Grand Falls-Windsor in central Newfoundland. It was a particularly dry summer with an extreme fire hazard throughout the province. Grand Falls- Windsor, like many towns in the province, is surrounded by forest on all sides. Indeed, most of us are so far back in the woods, we must come out to hunt! Predictably, a nasty fire broke out close to town and began to bear down on our neighborhood. None of us kids were at risk because we had long since been thrown out of the house, but my folks were still there. Mother was sent packing while Dad stayed behind to protect his relatively new house and fight off any advancing conflagration with a medium- quality garden hose. While waiting for perdition’s flames to consume the area, he hove to with a garden chair to watch the water bombers do their thing. Having a front row seat, he decided it was time for a drink. Being a community-minded soul (I think he was deputy mayor at the time) he thought it selfish to just hydrate himself, so he moved the entire bar out into the driveway to help hydrate passersby. It was a great way to use up half-full bottles of rum and should immediate evacuation be ordered, at least he would be able to save the bar. It proved to be a very popular adaptation to an impending crisis and there was no shortage of patrons to the complimentary service. Several pedestrians — no, numerous pedestrians — took advantage of the evolving block party. The group then witnessed a Caterpillar D7 tractor come lumbering up the road. It was Frank, one of Dad’s neighbors, who owned a small construction company. “Frank,” yelled Dad, (the deleterious effects of drinking and driving a large tractor notwithstanding) “Come in and have a drink.” “I can’t,” Frank immediately replied. “I have to go up the road and carve out a firebreak for the town. Big emergency. In a hurry. But thanks!” Civic duty won the debate and Frank continued on his way. As commercial pilots, we all train ad nauseam for emergencies, but until we are faced with the real thing it is difficult to predict how we may react or what the outcome may be. 8 Ver tical Maga zine Dad acknowledged the exchange and went back to bartending combined with occasional use of the garden hose to douse “flankers” (sparks) from the advancing fire. About 15 minutes later, a very sweaty and exhausted-looking Frank came walking back down the road from the opposite direction — sans D7 tractor. (For the rest of the story, we can call him “Flustered Frank.”) He immediately broke left and sidled up to the bar. “Can I have that drink now?” “Why, of course,” replied Dad. Looking a little puzzled, he inquired, “Where is your tractor?” Flustered Frank looked up after his first sip of rum, sweat on his furrowed brow. “Sunk up to the driver’s seat in a bog about one kilometer up the road.” And so continued Dad’s neighborhood emergency response. As with all emergencies, real or anticipated, this one passed thankfully with no injuries (save the odd hangover) or loss of property. The forest has grown back, the birds continue to sing, and while under protest from Dad, Mother insisted the bar be moved out of the driveway. As commercial pilots, we all train ad nauseam for emergencies, but until we are faced with the real thing it is difficult to predict how we may react or what the outcome may be. Now, I am not advocating that we break open a bottle of Captain Morgan (the man in the red dress) to deal with emergencies, but quality training stacks the odds in our favor, giving us ability and confidence. But we should never assume that we will not get stuck in a bog somewhere along the way. Stay safe and compliments of the season to you all!