Primary school teacher who woke up to find her face in the campfire recalls the horrific moment
Victorian primary school teacher burned her whole face off in a horrific campfire accident.
The terrifying incident happened on May 30, during an unplanned outing, 7 News reports.
Teacher Halie Tennant, 29, from Hotspur, Victoria, went on a spontaneous trip with a friend of hers.
They both fell asleep by the fire – Tennant in her camping chair, and her friend in her swag. Soon after, a strange murmuring sound woke Halie’s friend up. She then saw the horrific scene – Halie was lying in the fire, making no effort to move.
Although Halie doesn’t remember much from the incident, she believes her chair must have tripped, which led to her falling onto the fire. While recalling the traumatizing event, she said:
“My friend heard a weird noise and before she even registered what she was seeing, she was out of bed and running towards me. I was face first in our campfire and I was making no effort to get out.”
In a bid to save Halie from the blaze, her friend pulled her from it and poured ice-cold water all over her face to cool it down. She most probably saved her life.
At the time, Ms. Tennant was completely unaware of what was going on, so she doesn’t remember feeling any pain.
While still oblivious to what had happened, Halie and her friend drove home to her husband, Mathew Tennant. Matthew did anything he could to keep his wife calm and her face as cool as possible while waiting for medical help to arrive.
Ms. Tennant was placed in a coma for eight days due to the severity of her injuries.
She was then moved to the burns ward to start her recovery. The Victorian teacher has spent nearly three months in hospital and has undergone six serious surgeries, including the removal of damaged skin and skin grafts to the face, neck, eyelids, and mouth.
Halie shares the coronavirus pandemic has definitely made her recovery way harder:
“Covid was the hardest part of my recovery, I really missed my family and friends. While in ICU I was only allowed one visitor for one hour per day so Mathew, my mum and my dad took turns sitting with me.”
Explaining the incredibly challenging healing process, she said:
“I was released from hospital for a week and a half and had to be readmitted due to my eyelids not touching, once this was fixed, the surgeons looked at me again when we were getting ready to discharge and made the call to operate again on my mouth, as it had contracted so much my mouth couldn’t open enough to eat something of a fork or spoon.”
The teacher admits the most scarring part of the accident was losing her identity.
“The hardest thing was losing my identity, I’m not a vain person, but your face and its characteristics are important in how you recognise yourself. Not knowing who you are anymore is a hard thing to come to terms with.”
Thankfully, Halie has an amazing support system, including her husband, her family, her friends, and numerous online well-wishers who have kept her ‘positive, laughing and honest’.
What’s more, she believes the campfire incident was a ‘wake up call’ that helped her learn how to face her problems, instead of avoiding them.
“Since my accident I have chosen to seek help and to start working through my problems instead of ignoring them. This has gone on to be a hunt for silver linings. To be positive and to feel and acknowledge my feelings. I think of my accident as a wake up call, a second chance to do better, to be better and to look after me better.”