Saving lives all in a day's work
By Helen Jack and Emma O'Neill
IT WAS the start of an ordinary working day for Dale Miles and Robert Hunter, but within minutes of leaving home they had helped save a life. "It's not a habit," Robert said. Both men were passing the intersection of Southern Cross Avenue and the Pacific Highway at Ballina at 6.15am last Thursday when they saw the tail end of Paul Wills' white Holden ute loose control and cross the median strip into oncoming traffic. Miraculously, Paul did not collide with another vehicle. Instead, his car hit a power pole on the western side of the highway, flipped and landed on its roof in a drain. Dale said he saw the accident and knew the utility had ended up in the drain and he knew the drain was full of water. His fears were realised when he and Robert Hunter arrived at the scene to find the driver motionless with his head underwater. It wasn't until after Dale had entered the drain's putrid water that he realised he knew the man whose life he was about to save. "After we jumped into the drain I recognised Paul's ute. I've known Paul for ages, but would have jumped in for anyone," he said. While Paul recovered at his parent's home yesterday, Dale filled him in on his near-death experience. Paul said he had little recollection of the events, nor did he see any white lights as his life hung in the balance. "I'm so grateful to everyone who helped me out that morning. I'm really lucky to be here," he said. Robert said adrenalin kicked in during the rescue. "I thought there must have been someone still in the car, so I looked in the window and saw the driver upside down in the water, submerged from the chest down," he said. "I reached in and lifted his head out of the water. He was only a little bloke, so it was easy to manoeuvre him around. He wasn't breathing and had already turned blue." Robert said he yelled for a knife to cut away the seatbelt so the man could be put in a better position for CPR. "It only took a minute and he was breathing on his own again," he said. Robert said a crowd of people had gathered at the top of the drain offering the rescuers support. "I yelled for a knife and in seconds I had one," he said. Dale said they were no super heroes. "This sort of thing just shows you can be alive one minute and have no life in you the next," he said. "I just hope if it ever happened to me people would do the same for me."