First sight of the flames. I had smelt the smoke and my pager went off with the message "Stay and defend or leave now" about ten minute ago.
This is not looking good.
Time to bug out but where to go? I am the last house on the street - after me only bush - don't even think about trying to scoot across the creek bed, lush and green as it may seem. I had already burned off a safe patch at the front of the house. The Hail Mary option. I had my PPE from the Volunteer Bushfire Brigade. I knew what the expressions "Being caught in the open, in a burn over, by yourself" and "Dead Man's Zone" meant from my training. The mantra is "Out of the green into the Black". I just keep repeating it.
I watched my house and my Old Gal VH-LAG vaporise then it was time to make a move myself. The transition through the fire zone was a bit surreal, it started to hurt quite a bit but I kept moving. I made it out OK and got picked up off the side of the road, a sorry smoky soggy pile. Evacuated in one of our light tankers and got treated for minor burns and shock.
Thought that was the end of it but it wasn't. Once the fight and the adrenaline go out of your body and your conscious mind, there is more to come. It takes your subconscious about a fortnight to call a special AGM in the middle of the night to demand an answer from the committee "What the Hell just happened ?? You nearly got me killed!!" From there on in relations degenerate and it becomes impossible to make decisions without murmurings of distrust from the rank and file general membership. People - Stress Depression - if / when you’re blood stream feels like it is comprised of microscopic razor blades. Pop a flare!! It can be lethal in it's self. Don't feel you are being weak or self indulgent - the process isn't working at a level accessible to reason, or even consciousness.
Like fires, PTSD modes, can happen quite fast so you don’t have time to muck around.
Call "Time Out" and head off to Canada. Spend some time with family (or strangers - when you get there you wont be able to tell the difference) and choose a Stetson. "You call those Mountains "Rocky" ? That's just sandstone! In Western Australia ...." Chill and Heal.
So what have we learned from this? Have a Bushfire Preparedness Plan. Go see the guys at your local Volunteer Bushfire Brigade and they will set you up. Have a Stress Breakdown Plan for members of your family and close friends.