Author: Edward

Firefighter left paralysed like a jelly as he watched the blaze unfold

Firefighter left paralysed like a jelly as he watched the blaze unfold

Veteran firefighter at recruits crash scene had ‘never seen something at this magnitude’

This article is more than 1 year old

This article is more than 1 year old

A veteran firefighter who was part of the first rescue team to reach the mangled firefighting truck that crashed in a Sydney CBD hotel two years ago was left “paralysed like a jelly” after the blaze ripped through the vehicle’s chassis.

The rescue effort to extinguish the blaze – which killed three firefighters and left more than 300 passengers and crew members stranded – has been hailed as one of the nation’s finest as NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian described it as “the highlight of my career”.

Gerry Patterson was part of the initial effort to save the truck from the inferno in October 2016 and watched the drama unfold from the front of the truck. He told on Friday he was “paralysed like a jelly” as he watched the fire explode through the truck.

Patterson, who became a licensed firefighter in 2008, said he could remember many of the actions but it took him years to process what was happening. “I was like, ‘We can die here’,” he said. “I said to myself, ‘I am just a piece of wood here’. At that time I was just really numb. I had no response to anyone around me.”

He added: “This is my first brush with death and I was a little shocked and dumbfounded because I have not seen death in my entire life. I can’t even think of a time that I have witnessed death.”

Patterson said he was on call that night and arrived to the scene at 11.40pm. He recalled the first thing that hit him was the smell of burning rubber and the smell of people.

“When you see a fire, you know it is bad,” he said. “It was just total confusion, total chaos. It was really bad.

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