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Joe Meanen – Piper Alpha Survivor
Piper Alpha July 6th 1988 is one of those disasters where you can almost pin point where you were when it happened, maybe not during the initial blast but in the subsequent days when the fires raged on and the death toll and injured casualties were still to be determined.
The newsreels ran over the days/weeks which followed, and the scene looked like something from hell. I was still in secondary school but the name Red Adair (whose real name was Paul Neal Adair) became a household name, his exploits and fire-fighting skills were admired by my family but it wasn’t until my own accident, that I could truly say I had much more empathy with what these people on that rig must have gone through.
My accident was low profile, street work, could have easily gone relatively unreported but Piper Alpha was the biggest accident of its kind before and since. My accident was brutal and fairly sudden, but any fear aspect only lasted for a fraction of a second. Some of the people onboard the Piper Alpha Platform (who’d survived those initial blasts) must have had to cope with their fear over a prolonged period to manage their escape!
Can you imagine how excited I was to hear that one of the 61 survivors of Piper Alpha was keen to meet with me with a view to sharing his story after 30 years of keeping his personal escape to only those who knew him closely.