Explosive expert, Darren Flanagan who was instrumental in saving Beaconsfield miners Todd Russell and Brant Webb from a collapsed mine shared his inspiring story at the Bondi Chamber of Commerce networking breakfast last Thursday.
Speaking at the networking breakfast, Mr Flanagan said he was not there to talk about his role during the rescue. Wentworth Courier reports that the explosives expert was there to speak about mental health and workplace safety.
“I don’t want you to think that I flew in there with a blue cape,” said Mr Flanagan.
“I feel guilty and sick inside that I got so much attention.”
“I never realised mental health was real,” he said. “All of a sudden I’m in the shower at home crying, and for the first time I realised mental health was real.”
He also encouraged businesses to give more attention to workplace safety to avoid another disaster from happening.
“People never realised what was really happening,” he said. “There was the euphoria of the rescue but no one saw what was left behind. There were more tears than cheers.”
“You’ve got to ask ‘what am I doing to my workers’ lives’?”
Mr Flanagan was called in to perform the risky operation of freeing the workers who were trapped 925m underground following a mine collapse in April 2006. He spent a week underground testing how he would successfully perform the operation using explosives which were not designed to be used near people. According to Mr Flanagan, the impact of the pressure he endured started to sink in after the rescue. He suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress.
Mental health issues affect one in four Australian men.
“We’ve got to stop this slapping on the back and saying ‘you’ll be alright’ after a beer.”
He now uses this life-changing experience to raise awareness on workplace safety and mental health issues.