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.
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.