'The chainsaw whisperer' creating a buzz
WOMEN in Mackay are beginning to forge a reputation as powerhouses of the manual labour industry, courtesy of a tireless work ethic and their passionate mentor.
Affectionately known as the Chainsaw Whisperer, Rod Millar has conducted chainsaw training programs for 12 years, and is calling on more local women to follow in the footsteps of his most recent prodigies.
For the first time in what has been a colourful career, Mr Millar instructed a class dominated by a female presence, and on Thursday he praised the efforts of the women who participated at a demonstration at the botanical gardens.
"They were just amazing," Mr Millar said.
"Their work capability was as good as anyone I have ever trained and it really should be noted."
Christened the Chainsaw Whisperer by the Inspector of Police, the calibre and diversity of trainees under Mr Millar's watch is a testament to his expert instruction.
Travelling all over Queensland to engage his methods with city, regional and rural aspirants, Mr Millar has witnessed some incredible moments of resilience, paying tribute to the strength of character exhibited by those under his tutelage.
From Toru Iwatani, the inventor of Pac-Man, to victims of Cyclone Yasi, Mr Millar has been party to many determined feats.
"I trained a lady who was 62, and she was a widow after (Cyclone) Yasi," Mr Millar recalls.
Among his newest cohort were Kellie Woodford and Lynette Keir.
The pair required the qualification in their roles as horticulturists for Mackay Regional Council, and are bucking the trend of what has previously been a predominantly male workforce.
Ms Keir said that gender was no restriction to ability using the chain saw.
"The machine does all the work for you, so gender isn't really an issue, it's just confidence and making sure you do your safety first." she said.
"It's not a man's world in that sense.
"It's changing, and great trainers like we had... give you that confidence.
"Knowledge is key and knowledge is power. When you're confident that you know what you're doing you are capable for the task at hand."
However, the implications of the training extend beyond the workforce.
With the region's cyclone season fast approaching, Ms Keir said that strong capabilities with this equipment would prove vital should disaster relief work be required.
With the region's cyclone season fast approaching, disaster relief workers with these qualifications will prove invaluable across the entire community.
Mr Millar praised the local council's disaster preparation work, believing it to be the leading body in these tumultuous situations.
"The Mackay Regional Council staff are very sincere and conscientious about their jobs, with an outstanding work ethic," he said.
"The camaraderie you see with these people is seldom seen in any other work area."