On fire from the inside out

<strong><em>On fire from the inside out</em></strong><em></em>

Tonight on SAS Australia, Melissa Wu took a dive, suffering the debilitating effects of tear gas, while polarising recruit Pauly Fenech called time on his SAS journey.

In one of the most harrowing tasks on selection, recruits entered a shipping container filled with noxious tear gas mask-free and attempted to free a bound hostage.

“Tear gas burns,” said Chief Instructor Ant Middleton. “It burns your eyes, it burns your nose, it burns your lungs. It’s almost as if you’re on fire from the inside out.”

In confronting scenes, Olympic diver Melissa Wu passed out as she exited the container, falling face first into the ground and requiring urgent medical attention.

Motorsports presenter Riana Crehan was one of the few recruits to successfully complete the task, so the DS decided to find out more about her motivations for doing the course.  

“Last year was a really difficult year personally and professionally for me,” Riana explained. “I lost my job because of COVID, my husband lost his job because of COVID and then my dad died so it felt like we got kicked in the teeth a little bit. It really just makes you reassess what you’re doing and the people that are close to you and just making the most of any opportunity.”

Still reeling from the tear gassing, recruits were then faced with one of the most physically arduous tasks on the battlefield – an eight kilometre casualty evacuation through unforgiving terrain.

Team leaders Anna Heinrich and Millie Boyle pushed hard through the elements, which included uneven rocky obstacles and waist-deep water. Barely functioning and on the brink of collapse, Millie’s team Bravo completed the mission with only minutes to spare with Millie describing the task as “the hardest thing I’ve ever done”. Anna was noticeably upset after her team failed to finish within the time limit, despite their best efforts.

In a sobering moment, DS Clint Emerson reminded the fatigued recruits why a casualty evac is “without a doubt the most important f***ing thing you’ll ever do” by showing them his metal wristband featuring the names of comrades who had been killed in action.  

The exhausting exercise proved too much for the course’s oldest recruit, lone wolf Pauly, who chose to hand in his number, saying: “I feel fantastic, it was a great experience. I’m just a little too old and probably not quite fit enough.

“I guess the only thing I regret is I clashed with some people. But you know that’s just me and at the end of the day for an old dog I go alright you know.”


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