When big things hit, the little safety things make sense

YOU couldn't detect a breath in the room but you were weeping with him, laughing with him and bleeding for him.

Most people thought this was another business lunch, instructive and hopefully entertaining, but when explosives expert Darren Flanagan addressed the Business Enterprise Centre lunch at the RSL club on Monday he left a changed audience.

Mr Flanagan was given a standing ovation after a mesmerising account of his part — and he always insisted it was only a part — in the rescue of Brant Webb and Todd Russell at Beaconsfield Mine in April, 2006.

This was the real story, not the one wrecked in the movie, nor the one sensationalised at the time by TV cameras.

This was the second by agonising second tale of life-charged decisions, harrowing waits, wretched nights and — worst of all — desperate pleas from the "two boys" crushed under tonnes of rock, begging, amidst stifling fumes, not to be hurt as explosives ripped around them.

There have been many times that Mr Flanagan, now on the speaking circuit, has given his account of that week but the raw emotion of Monday made you swear it was the very first.

His messages were myriad. Safety. Care of staff. Responsibility. Mental health. Family ties. Connections. Support. Decision-making.

We can be irritated by safety rules and frustrated by red tape, but when the big things hit the little things start to make sense.

So if the next work-safety courses run by the BEC are not flooded with applicants, it won't be the fault of BEC manager John Todd and his team, who organised this dynamic guest speaker.

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