Fiji Time: 8:28 PM on Monday 19 March

Fiji Times Logo

/ Front page / Archives » Article Index

Heroes behind the scenes

Fred Wesley
Tuesday, March 06, 2018

AS Norman Francis sat smiling with his family for a group picture, there was no inkling at all of the frightening experience he had just gone through. Apart from his family members, his mates and those who met him during the search, rescue and recovery of the bodies of the Cessna 172 aircraft crash victims last week on Vanua Levu, not many people knew about his line of work.

Thousands though, saw The Fiji Times front page picture of Mr Francis and a mate, on Friday, March 2, abseiling down the side of the cliff at Delaikoro to recover the bodies trapped inside the aircraft, which was on top of a tree.

The sheer drop was frightening. It certainly wasn't stuff for the faint-hearted.

They were pictured at the end of safety ropes slowly making their way down the cliff.

Mr Francis, 33, said it wasn't easy recovering the bodies while suspended 200 metres in midair.

Any wrong move could cost them their lives.

A little slip-up and they could plummet to their deaths. But the father of one said the training they did as part of their urban search and rescue training gave them the confidence to work from such heights.

Such work takes confidence, courage, concentration, teamwork, assistance from mates at the scene and a lot of support.

Apart from making the terrifyingly slow descent to the aircraft, they had to focus on maintaining stability as well, ensuring the craft remained on the top of the trees and not fall further down.

It meant not disturbing the wreck.

It wasn't easy carrying the bodies to the designated area either while suspended in midair.

His wife Karolina went weak in the knees when she saw pictures of her husband and his team at the cliff's edge.

"I was worried but I knew Norman and his team knew what they were doing," she said. "Being married to heroes sometimes demands a lot of understanding and faith."

People such as Mr Francis may be unwilling heroes, but they should remind us of the importance of human life, and the values we must have for life itself. They may consider themselves ordinary people, simply playing a role they trained for.

They should remind us though that there are men and women out there who are making sacrifices in the line of duty. They put their lives at risk. They are our silent heroes.

Like Mr Francis, they too have loved ones who worry about them, are concerned for them and pray over them. We should acknowledge the efforts of all the men and women who were involved in the search, rescue and recovery of the victims of the Cessna 172 crash.

We say thank you.

Fiji Times Front Page Thumbnail

Kaila Front Page ThumbnailFiji Times & Kaila Frontpage PDF Downloads

Use the free Acrobat Reader to view.

Code Inward TTs Outward TTs
CAD 0.65010.6311
JPY 53.241250.2412
GBP 0.35510.3471
EUR 0.40440.3924
NZD 0.69430.6613
AUD 0.64630.6213
USD 0.49840.4814



Exchange Rate updated on 19th, March, 2018

Today's Most Read Stories

  1. No desk for this girl
  2. Police appeal to livestock owners
  3. 'Teach sons respect'
  4. Ammunition case transferred to high court
  5. Online safety
  6. Saneem clarifies counting process
  7. Staff retention bid
  8. Tuvalu here to learn 7s
  9. Teachers told to keep abreast of change
  10. Taps run dry after water main bursts

Top Stories this Week

  1. Sims' 100th game Thursday (15 Mar)
  2. Men urged to marry Thursday (15 Mar)
  3. Picking up the pieces Tuesday (13 Mar)
  4. 'Forced to go' Saturday (17 Mar)
  5. Doctors speak out Sunday (18 Mar)
  6. Where are our horses Sunday (18 Mar)
  7. Baravilala's ode to Cessna victims Thursday (15 Mar)
  8. A star in the making Thursday (15 Mar)
  9. 7s hunt Tuesday (13 Mar)
  10. Golden chance Tuesday (13 Mar)