Her Dad, Craig, said to her, why don’t you try for Fire and Rescue? You probably wont get in, the competition is fierce, but you’d be good. Indeed it was fierce. Kaitlyn Matuschka checked it out and found that there were a daunting 8700 applications with only 100 places on offer in the new intake.
“The first tests were online. Somehow I got through those to the interviews and amazingly, at 18, I was chosen to be part of the FRNSW. Even more amazing, with me just off my Green P’s, found myself sometimes driving the truck for our four-person crew, based at Cabramatta. At first, it was terrifying, but now I love driving the huge pump, racing to the call whatever it is.”
“People are surprised by how much we do. Friends say to me, there can’t be that many fires, are there?”
“It’s not just fires. We attend car accidents, we break into houses when someone has fallen down and cant get to the door. We rescue animals. It’s amazing the range of stuff we do. I wasn’t long in the job before there was a very confronting situation, somebody who had committed suicide in front of a train.”
“We are taught to quickly assess each situation and think through the implications of everything we do. For examples, if there’s an oil spill, you cant just hose it off the road because that puts it in the storm water drain or on someone’s lawn.”
“One reason people are attracted to the Fire and Rescue are the hours. I’m on 24, off 24 an then have five days off. That gives me plenty of time to pursue my other interests which are mostly sporting. I'm in all sorts of surf lifesaving competitions and have done quite well."
“It’s not just fires. We attend car accidents, we break into houses when someone has fallen down and cant get to the door. We rescue animals. It’s amazing the range of stuff we do."
Actually, Kaitlyn is an Australian champion and has won four gold medals in surf ski events. She continues to compete at an elite level; "Avoca is an amazing place for sport. Everyone is doing it. Your friendship circle, your family, everything feeds into this lifestyle. I find I have no reason to leave Avoca except to go to work. We are very lucky here."
“That kitten was lucky too. When we got the call that an animal was trapped in a drain, I said to my boss, if it’s a kitten, I want it. Some walkers had heard plaintive cries coming from a pipe. When we got there, we found a five-month-old ginger kitten and he’s now at home with me, Flash is his name.”
“I never imagined I’d be with Fire and Rescue, but now it feels so right. Leaving Kincumber High School, I got all sorts of advice and support, I actually accepted for Sports Science at the University of Newcastle and Occupational Therapy on the Sunshine Coast. But really, I wasn’t that keen and everything changed when Dad said, why don’t you try for Fire and Rescue?”