BRAVERY CITATION: NSW SES Lismore deputy controller Amanda Vidler together with colleagues SES deputy team leader Paul Barry and team leader John Stirling have been named to receive a Group Bravery Citation for rescuing two men during the 2016 floods.
BRAVERY CITATION: NSW SES Lismore deputy controller Amanda Vidler together with colleagues SES deputy team leader Paul Barry and team leader John Stirling have been named to receive a Group Bravery Citation for rescuing two men during the 2016 floods. Alison Paterson

Bravery awards for SES volunteers after flood rescue

IT WAS pouring rain and pitch black when State Emergency Services volunteer Leading Senior Constable Amanda Vidler, Paul Barry and Senior Constable John Stirling rescued two men from raging floodwaters.

The SES volunteers went to the assistance of the pair who got into strife after they went to move their livestock to a higher ground and became trapped as waters rapidly rose.

The emergency services trio managed to locate the men who were found exhausted and clinging to a power pole, rescued them and undoubtedly saved their lives.

Now the three Lismore SES members have been honoured with a Group Bravery Citation for their outstanding rescue of two men caught in floodwater on 4 June 2016.

Ms Vidler who is also the coordinator of the Lismore police rescue squad, said the incident occurred after the men had securing their cattle and were walking back through the flood waters only to be swept off their feet. 

She said the strong current carried both men downstream before they were able to grab hold of a nearby electricity pole.  

When the SES members arrived they boarded a flood boat, and began looking for the two men in hazardous conditions..

"We were in our wetsuits, helmets and portable floatation devices and using lights to try and locate them," Ms Vidler said.

"It was about 2am and pitch black when we located them."

On locating the men in the fading light they could see that both were close to exhaustion and the fast flowing water was now at chest height. 

"They were pretty happy to see us, you could see it in their eyes," she said.

"The older man who could not swim being up by the younger man and we put him in the boat first, he could not talk he was in so much shock."

One of the members remained with the younger man and by this time the water was lapping at their faces.

Ms Vidler said the flood boat then became entangled on a wire fence below the surface.

"But we managed to sort it out, you can't panic in these situations, you just have to get on with it."

After the boat returned and the men were pulled aboard and transported to higher ground and safety.

While Ms Vidler said the trio felt honoured to be recognised, she insisted it was a very much a team effort.

"We are stoked about this award but there were two other SES members with us managing the vehicle and communication ans we could not have done this without them." she said.

"We were surprised to learn we had been nominated for this award as we already had received NSW SES Commissioner's Commendation for Courage."

Acting Region Controller for Richmond Tweed Region SES, Wayne Pettit, said the organisation was exceptionally proud of the members actions.

"These members received a NSW SES Commissioner's Commendation for Courage earlier this year," he said.

"It is excellent to see they are being recognised nationally with an Australian Bravery Award."

Mr Pettit said the SES is proud of all of their volunteers that work to help their communities during natural disasters and in particular for the dangerous work they do in flood rescue.

Other Northern Rivers residents receiving Australian Bravery Awards

The Star of Courage

Dr Hugh Robert Giles of East Ballina on the morning of February 9, 2015, was involved in the rescue of a man who had been attacked by a shark at Shelly Beach, Ballina.

Bravery Medal

Mr Mark Geoffrey Crawford of Eltham In the evening of June 4, 2016, he assisted a man who was caught in floodwater near Lismore.

Dr Peter Kerkenezov of Ballina on the evening of September 29, 1983, was involved in the rescue of a person from a capsized vessel near the port of Ballina.

Mr Matthew Hayes Meadows of East Ballina on the morning of February 9, 2015, was involved in the rescue of a man who had been attacked by a shark at Shelly Beach, Ballina.



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