SYDNEY mother and cancer survivor, Ophelia Haragli, has raised more than $600,000 to purchase special respiratory masks for local fire services across Australia, including the Myall Coast’s Medowie and Bulahdelah Rural Fire Brigades.
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“So far I’ve been able to distribute more than 5,000 respiratory masks to those in need in NSW alone,” Ms Haragli said.
“I put a post up on Facebook for people to get in contact with their local brigades to see if they were interested in receiving respiratory masks and the response was huge, with captains and even family members of firefighters messaging me for help.”
As a breast cancer survivor, Ms Haragli was shocked to learn how difficult it was to actually use the traditional P2 masks, and how ineffectively it protected firefighters.
“I started doing my own research on the impacts of bushfire smoke and saw that it can cause cancer so that was right up my alley,” she said.
“Fighting fires has mostly been done using P2 masks, so many of the firefighters I’ve spoken with didn’t even know about these types of respiratory masks.”
The Bulahdelah Rural Fire Brigade were chuffed to receive a batch of masks, hand delivered by Ms Haragli herself, and posted on Facebook, “This afternoon the Brigade was privileged to receive a gift of 23 respiratory masks worth in excess of $2,000 from a wonderful lady named Ophelia from My Sisters Keeper.”
“We truly appreciate this gift.”
Ms Haragli has delivered nearly 75 masks to Medowie and Bulahdelah Rural Fire Brigades, and hopes that the RFS, who is now conducting their own review of P2 respiratory masks, will be able to continue the work that she has been doing.
By Ashley CHRYSLER