Kidnapped, Shot & Burnt Alive …

Thanks to David Gray at Reuters I have just completed an intensive three day ‘Hostile Environment Course’ in Sydney.

Great to get the invitation from David – Thomson Reuters ultra talented Walkley winning photographer – and I was joined by Reuters staff photographer Jason Reed, freelancers Hamish Blair, Jason O’Brien and the legendary Rick Stevens along with a mix of journalists.

Over the first two days the offices of Reuters in Wynyard Sydney were turned into variously a battlefield, a triage, a natural disaster area and a terrorist hostage hangout … sometimes to the shock and horror of neighbouring office workers. We were shot at, blown up, kidnapped, hooded, interrogated and held for ransom, forced to decide which colleagues were worth saving and which were ‘dead’, crawl around on a ‘bloody’ floor to perform CPR and dress legs hanging off … and much much more.

The amount of information imparted by vastly experienced Key Objectives tutors Roger, Colin and Mark was extremely impressive and, despite my many past natural disaster (and riot and coup) experiences it was surprising to realise how much I didn’t know and how much more there was to learn and hopefully retain. Thankfully the info has also been provided in a great comprehensive handbook.

Day three yesterday saw our group in Sydney’s Royal National Park avoiding catastrophic bush fires, preparing our vehicle to survive a ‘burn over’, avoiding hostile gun fire and convoy vehicle attacks … and lots of crawling around in the dirt (not much time for bird watching …)

An excellent eye opening experience and one that I would strongly recommend to anyone in the media who ventures out to where the stories are. It may save your life.

Thanks David, Reuters, Key Objectives and my great bunch of course colleagues. The experience is well ’embedded’.