QFES Ipswich swiftwater technician Nathan Chadwick.
QFES Ipswich swiftwater technician Nathan Chadwick. Sarah Harvey

Risking life for cigs

COMPARED to drink-driving or texting at the wheel, motorists believe driving through floodwater is a low-harm activity unlikely to impact other drivers.

But QFES Ipswich swiftwater technician Nathan Chadwick said every time someone became stuck, they put not only their lives in danger but those of their rescuers.

Mr Chadwick, who was involved in retrieving people at Murphys Creek in the 2011 Lockyer Valley flood disaster, said firefighters had an obligation to put their lives on the line for people who get into trouble.

But he said rescuing people who drove into floodwater because they had "run out of cigarettes and needed to get a fix" could be exasperating.

"When we see that type of human behaviour, it goes past being frustrating," he said. "We don't like to take risks fixing up other people's problems but we will always turn out and help regardless of how the individual got themselves into it in the first place.

"People do silly things and you just accept it as part of your job to help them.

"Once that fear kicks in, people are very happy to see us.

"They are very compliant ... as they realise they've put themselves in a dangerous situation and realise they are jeopardising our lives too."

But Mr Chadwick said the vast majority of people caught in floodwaters around Ipswich were trying to evacuate or get home.

"Just stay home, that's the best place in the world to be in heavy rain. It's not worth going out," he said. "If you can't get home, find a friend and stay there the night."



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