Special surprise for Pasko

Pasko Mikulandra received a service medal and clasp for his contribution as a volunteer firefighter.
Pasko Mikulandra received a service medal and clasp for his contribution as a volunteer firefighter.

A plumber and gasfitter by trade, Mr Mikulandra has witnessed his fair share of narrow escapes over the past 16 years as volunteer brigade captain on the island.

In 2006, the Rockingham resident co-ordinated a rescue of six people from a plane that crashed into the salt lake.

�I remember I was filling up the fire truck and saw a plane flying lower and lower; I realised it was about to crash,� Mr Mikulandra said.

�It flipped over in the lake and there were people on board calling out for help.

�I had to cut one young woman out of the plane. Her leg was stuck but she was freed with only minor injuries.

�It was a close call.�

The Rottnest Island Authority kept the presentation of the medal a closely guarded secret, telling Mr Mikulandra it was an information session on severe weather warning preparations.

�Not much gets past me on the island, so it was a welcome surprise,� he said.

�It was really overwhelming; I didn�t expect it.�

Although the isolation from the mainland was a challenge, Mr Mikulandra said he enjoyed the island life.

�The great thing about living on Rottnest is the environment; it�s a fantastic place to raise kids,� he said.

�Both of my kids were nearly born there.�

Mr Mikulandra met and married his wife on Rottnest and his eldest daughter completed five years at Rottnest Primary School.

�The main reason for leaving the island is my eldest daughter starting high school,� he said.