I wasn’t prepared for the worst – are you?

This morning I was driving back to Perth, after running a late-night community planning workshop in a small country town. It’s called Dowerin, about two hours east of Perth.

I leave at 6.30am it’s a cool, breezy morning and head towards home. About 20 minutes later, I round a curve and see a big heap of fresh, dark green leaves spread across the road.

Initial thought – must have been an overhanging branch taken out by a truck…

Then I see the skid marks.

A Landcruiser ute is on the opposite side of the road, lying on its roof.


I drove on for about 30 seconds, thinking, “Well nobody is there, I guess it must have been taken care of.

But what if it hadn’t?”

I turned around and headed back, first on the scene, absolutely crapping myself about what I’m about to find…

I know I’m not prepared for this..

Now I’m on my hands and knees peering through the driver’s side of the upturned ute.

A local truckie has pulled up. He’d passed the spot 20 minutes earlier – the ute wasn’t there then.

He knows the vehicle. He knows the driver. There’s a tremor in both our voices.

Not good.Be a Prepared in Facilitation

Inside I see chaos – but nothing. Nobody. No blood.

I go around to the passenger side, where the window is smashed. Nothing. Nobody. No blood. No body.


We crunch around the scene, looking for clues. A tree broken at the base by the ute. The paddock fence is down. The motor is still warm, keys in the ignition, a half-eaten toasted sandwich in the cab and the driver’s wallet is on the ground.

It seems that the driver has kicked the window out and crawled through the opening – he’s a big guy apparently! And it seems, a very lucky guy.

Me and the truckie could only speculate that in this short time the driver had got out, flagged someone down and got a lift home. Remarkable, given the condition of his ute.

Why am I telling you this?

Continuing my drive home, I think through how woefully unprepared I was for this situation. Sure I have a first-aid kit in the car, but I have no recent first-aid training. What if it was a worst-case scenario? What the hell would I have done then?

It also got me thinking about the value of having Plan B in my facilitation work.

At the Dowerin workshop I rolled up thinking we’d have break-out groups working on laptops to provide input via Google docs. This is what I’d prepared for.

The client (wisely) tells me, “I’ve spoken to few people. We think paper-based input will work better.”


When the participants arrive, I see why as 50% are over 70. They were very happy with the A3 templates we had printed off as Plan B. The laptop input would’ve been annoying and frustrating for many. The workshop goes well.

Look for clues

It also reminded me about the importance of observing what’s happening immediately in front of you and staying focused.

Seeing those leaves was the first big clue. My immediate assumption was totally wrong. How many branches do you normally see overhanging a main road that are below vehicle height?

Finally it highlighted the need to respond – don’t assume someone else has taken care of things. Check that everything is OK, then move on.

PS – I’m booking in for my First-Aid course this week.

Safe travels!


Posted in

Andrew Huffer

Andrew Huffer has over 25 years experience in working with organisations, businesses, managers and communities and at a state, national and international level. He designs and delivers specialist engagement processes, with a focus on facilitating open decision making processes and skill development of clients. He has delivered presentations and workshops at a number of state, national and international conferences.

Reader Interactions


  1. Anna says

    That was a very well crafted email out and thanks for sharing the story (very glad you are ok too!!!). And yup, being prepared has so many facets to look at when we’re out doing stuff. Thank you. And I hope you had a top time in Dowerin!

  2. Francesca Irwin says

    Yikes- I was strung out reading it so I can just imagine your heart a-flutter. My CPR nowadays only extends to thudding someones chest to the timing of the Bee Gees ‘ha ha ha staying alive, staying alive ‘…not that reassuring! So thank you – prewarned is forearmed when combined with goal getting ! ( just made that up inspired by your story!)

    • Andrew Huffer says

      Thanks Fran – yep it was a long walk to that ute! I like your approach to CPR – I’m guessing he got up an ran off at the thought of me doing that! Lots of lessons in the experience, that’s for sure…

  3. Patricia Gignoli says

    Could totally relate to your story Andrew. It recalled to my memory driving to Hyden about 15 or so years ago. The car in front of us had been driving erratically for quite some time. I turned a corner and all I saw was dust and the car swerving all over the road creating more dust. I stopped my car not knowing what to do. A figure came walking out of the dust which prompted my getting out to make sure he was ok. Discovered more people where in the car which was resting on it roof a little way ahead. Like you I approached in trepidation. The sight I saw I will never forget. There was 4 others. All had suffered injuries and one I later heard was airlifted to Perth. By this stage another car had also stopped. Between us we decided 2 of us would go for help as in those days there was no mobile coverage and the rest would stay to help as best they could. I was one of the ones that went for help. We had to find a nearby farmhouse which turned out to be not that nearby. Needless to say we did, an ambulance was called and also the police. From that day forwards I have always tried to have a plan B in place.

    • Andrew Huffer says

      Hi Patricia,
      Yep I certainly had the ‘win-win’ scenario – yours sounded very confronting! And that road to Hyden had some very narrow sections with a lot of tourist traffic – not a good combo..I’ll be topping up my 1st aid kit as well…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Privacy Policy · Legal Notices · Copyright © 2024 · All Rights Reserved · SiteMap | Archives | Andrew Huffer by Smarter Websites | Web Design Perth