Heroes share life's lessons

Beaconsfield miners Todd Russell and Brant Webb tell how paramedics kept their spirits up.
Beaconsfield miners Todd Russell and Brant Webb tell how paramedics kept their spirits up.

FOR two weeks, we stayed glued to television screens as rescue crews did everything they could to save Beaconsfield miners Todd Russell and Brant Webb.

On Anzac Day, 2006, the two men entered the mine as ordinary Australians.

Fourteen days later they emerged as celebrities and heroes in the public's eyes. This week, they met up at a public forum in Rockhampton to officially launch CQUniversity's Bachelor of Paramedic Science degree.

"I know in my heart the paramedics kept the (mental) scars out. Those guys kept our minds pieced together. That's why they're my heroes," said Webb.

"They told us the truth so we could never doubt their honesty. They kept it real, and told it like it was.

"They were living this story and it's a tough gig," he said.

Todd Russell said to get through 321 hours of constant fear, they formed a relationship with paramedics on the outside; relationships that have held strong to this day.

He said post traumatic stress affected people differently.

"I was the only one out of hundreds of people who couldn't see something was wrong, until one day I came home and my wife and kids were on the doorstep with their bags packed.

"It doesn't make you any less of a man if you seek psychiatric help. It made my life better and turned my life around with my wife and family," he said.

Brant Webb told the audience one of the reasons the Beaconsfield mine collapsed was lack of communication.

"Communication from the front line guys on the ground, didn't get up to the top of the chain."

It took around 220 people and $40 million to rescue Webb and Russell.

"If the communication had been there, $40 million dollars wouldn't have been spent and Larry Knight would be alive," Webb said.

Both men now work to try to prevent workplace accidents.

"We've got to get the thought into worker's heads … don't cut those corners, you're a long time dead," Webb said.

"We see grown men in the mining industry cry when we talk about family.

"It makes them understand why they need to be safe and go home at the end of the day."

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