165px-Holger_OsieckI followed the Australia v Iraq World Cup qualifying game in real time on the web in London.

I was using the feed (Kieran Francis) and the Guardian (Scott Murray) feed concurrently. I had a half eye on the Brumbies v Lions rugby union game too.

I thought it might be an historic evening.

I was OK with Australia drawing with Iraq deep into the second half.

I did think that the longer the game went on the Australian coach, Holger Osieck, had some interesting (significant) decisions to make. One of them appeared on my screen:

Sub Guardian

Looking at the live feed, I am thinking that the game is entering a perturbation phase and hope that Australia’s ability to play football in the Iraq half will determine the outcome.

This follows (

Sub Goal

The Guardian’s take:

Su Guard

Meanwhile, the Brumbies defeated the Lions and scored the only try of the game.

As I switched off the feeds I did like The Guardian’s parting shot:

FT Guardian

From where I was sitting I thought Holger Osieck was managing a risk in decision making. I am hoping it was one of those cool head moments of clarity that leaders have. It is a great example to discuss.

Photo Credit

Holger Osieck (Wikipedia, License)

On Standby

DSCF7630I spent much of yesterday at the Mongarlow Fire Shed on standby.

It was declared a Catostrophic fire day under the Fire Danger Rating index. On such a day “Fires will likely be uncontrollable, unpredictable and very fast moving with highly aggressive flames extending high above tree tops and buildings”. People are advised to leave their homes early, hours or the day before a fire occurs since “even well prepared and constructed homes will not be safe”.

We had enough people on standby to fill our two fire trucks. We listened to the radio exchanges throughout the day. I spent much of the morning revisiting my first aid guidelines and recorded weather details throughout the day. At one point we reached a relative humidity of 14% and were experiencing gusts of a westerly wind up to 50 kmph.

In the early afternoon a fire broke out at Sand Hills. This was not in our immediate vicinity and we were advised to await further instructions. As I listened to the next two hours of exchanges as crews were deployed I was struck by:

  • The confidence and clarity of the team in Fire Control.
  • The adaptability of the fire crews on the fire ground facing very difficult conditions.
  • The need for urgent response and rapid decision-making.
  • The awareness of threats outside the current emergency.

What was occurring at the Sand Hills fire was a real-time, live scenario that had been the subject of training of crews in the Palerang District for the last three years.

DSCF7629I think sport has a great deal to learn from the experiences of volunteer fire fighters and their full-time colleagues. One of the most important for me yesterday was the benefits to be gained from a training model that emphasises the consequences of decisions and actions.

It is very difficult to have high fidelity in all training contexts but I was conscious during the Sand Hills fire that a live event drew upon procedures and practices honed in practice. This was particularly the case when, during the fire, a number of Red Messages were sent. These messages have utmost priority in radio traffic and indicate a danger to crews.

We were stood down from Mongarlowe at 7pm and three colleagues from the team went to work overnight on monitoring conditions at the Sand Hill fire. There was a report of the status of the fire here.

Crews in my region are on call again today but a change in the weather has reduced today’s risks.

Reflecting on yesterday I realised that my training had given me some readiness to perform and I was reminded that, as in sport, we have four options:

  • Attack
  • Contain
  • Defend
  • Flee

Understanding the difference between attack and flee is pivotal for volunteers.


Practice into Action

Most Sunday mornings I go up to my local rural fire station for a radio check.

Last Sunday after the radio check we looked at a short video produced by CFA Victoria.

Although the content is related specifically to a fire incident I thought there were some great generic lessons about:

  • Thoughtful decision making
  • Transferring training into action
  • Reflecting on practice