Greg Fisher
Doctors and nurses worked their miracles to keep me alive

One second I was a relatively fit 55-year-old cyclist and the next I was fighting for my life lying on a stretcher in a helicopter on my way to hospital.

My regular column for this magazine has been absent for the last three editions due to my life taking a major turn for the worse in the form of a road accident. I will not go into the gruesome details here, other than to say that human bone and tissue do not fare well in high-speed collisions with steel in the form of car bodies.

At the time I was taking a break from the office and enjoying some relaxed vacation time on Melbourne's Mornington Peninsula. It was all supposed to be about enjoying being on the water for a few days, with some relaxing road miles on the treadly in the interests of staying fit. Nothing could have been further from my mind than that I might be spending the next few weeks on respirators, clinging to life and being the major focus of a team of highly-trained and dedicated medical specialists. Not to mention taking up more than a little time from my family and friends.

For all of them, and of course, myself, the past few months have been more than tough. Loved ones and friends have been on an emotional roller coaster as doctors and nurses worked their miracles to firstly keep me alive, and then more recently to begin patching me up and putting me back together.

I'm told I still have quite a while to go before I am fully mended and back to my old self - or as close as I can possibly get. But with the support of so many, I am more than determined to meet the challenge head-on and reward all those people who have put so much into supporting me over recent months.

The 'R' word (rehab) rears its ugly head now and I am currently going through all sorts of contortions as I begin the task of reminding various muscles and nerves what their roles are on the road back to recovery.

Going from near-death to can't-wait-to-get-back-to-work has given me reason (and plenty of time) to ponder all sorts of things over the past difficult months. But primarily, from the point of view of my role as CEO of Club Marine, the message is that it is so easy to take life - and lifestyles - for granted.

What happened to me could have happened on land or water. In my particular situation, it was a case of being lulled into a false sense of security; of thinking that serious accidents only happen to everyone else, and never to me.

In our business, we are constantly reading reports about things going wrong out on the water. Boats collide with each other and all kinds of other objects, people fall overboard, injure themselves when docking, are hurt by gear coming loose or being misused and sometimes suffer burns from onboard fires. In nearly all of these situations, we invariably trace the chain of events back to a point where someone, somewhere did not pay attention and let something slip through their 'safety radar', allowing harm to befall their boat or crew.

No one is infallible. We all suffer from basic human frailties, which means that, especially in the case of spending time on the water on boats, there is always some element of risk attached. How we prepare for, anticipate and handle that risk largely determines how well our time on the water goes.

Ultimately it is the skipper who has control of overall safety on the water. It is up to the skipper to ensure that risks are minimised and that all crew members remain alert to potential dangers when on a boat.

I don't mean to overstate the safety message, but while my own situation occurred on land, the analogies are relevant in any situation. Always keep an eye out for danger, always make sure your equipment is in good working order, never become complacent and never, ever take safety for granted. Because that's exactly when you're likely to find out that none of us are bulletproof.

Greg Fisher,
CEO and Publisher,
Club Marine.
E-mail: ceo@clubmarine.com.au

 

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