Crash survivor returns the favour

From victim to firefighter

Alison and Charlie Tagliaferro are giving back to the Loch CFA after the brigade helped them after a frightening crash.

LOCH CFA volunteer Charlie Tagliaferro doesn’t remember anything about the car crash that changed his life in 2008.

However, he’s paying it forward by joining those who saved his life so he can help save others.

Charlie was in the passenger seat of the family Holden commodore station wagon driven by his 17-year-old son Luke when it and a truck collided, yet he remembers nothing of the accident or its immediate aftermath.

His wife Alison remembers how the local fire brigade cut him from the wreckage and how the firefighters comforted her.

From this potential tragedy, a family’s life of service to the CFA has emerged.

This month Charlie will become a lieutenant in the Loch and District Fire Brigade.

Alison has been the brigade’s secretary for the past four years.

The brigade is in Loch and Nyora, and is also a road rescue brigade.

More than a third of its 100 calls a year are car accidents.

Luke had been in the brigade for a year when the accident happened.

Despite breaking his hip, he was able to put his training to good use to provide first aid to his father while waiting for emergency services.

They were lucky to be alive.

“The truck ran over the back of us,” Charlie said.

“From the back of the car to the front seat, nothing was left,” Alison said.

Charlie was in the passenger front seat and suffered 13 broken ribs, a broken back, head injuries, failing lungs and a grade four concussion.

He’s never returned to work.

When he was well enough, about two years after the accident, Charlie joined the brigade to work alongside the volunteers who helped him.

Alison also wanted to return the favor.

“The CFA volunteers were so professional and calm, and it really seemed like they cared. They made me feel comfortable and confident,” she said.

Charlie was airlifted to the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne and Luke was taken to the Korumburra Hospital.

“I didn’t know which way to go, so some of the brigade guys drove my eldest son Adam to Korumburra and I went to the Alfred,” Alison said.

“I was told his lungs could have collapsed in the first 24 hours. It was hair-raising.”

Charlie has completed his road rescue training and, despite initial misgivings, Alison is now a fully-fledged firefighter.

“When I joined, I wasn’t going to do fire fighting or road rescue, I was just going to help out with paperwork,” she said.

“I was scared of fires and didn’t want to do another road rescue, but I was going to help with staging and had to do my general firefighter training.

“When I went to my first fire, I found out I loved it and it went from there.”

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria CEO Adam Barnett said Loch CFA was typical of many brigades that develop additional capabilities – such as road accident rescue – to meet the needs of their area.




Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=29563

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