RFS officer a hero after car crash
BEING the first on the scene of a serious car accident on an isolated country road would be most drivers’ worst nightmare – but not for one Lismore woman who received a bravery award in Sydney yesterday.
Northern Rivers Rural Fire Service community safety officer Bronwyn Waters was driving between Armidale and Guyra in August 2008 when she arrived at the scene of a serious motor vehicle collision between a truck and car with five passengers.
Though she was an acting RFS fire mitigation officer at the time, Ms Waters was still an RFS volunteer and worked in a podiatrist’s practice in Armidale.
Faced with such carnage for the first time, Ms Waters did not hesitate.
“There was no time to think about anything, I just did it. My training kicked in immediately and everything fell into place,” she said.
Ms Waters took control of the accident scene administering first aid and assistance to the victims, including carrying out CPR on one victim for 20 minutes until ambulance officers arrived.
“I’d been to a few motor vehicle accidents, but I’d never given CPR before,” she said.
“There were a number of fractures and bleeding to deal with and, of course, everyone was in shock.
“It is a sobering memory because there were a couple of children involved and I have kids myself.
“When you see things like that it helps you to appreciate what you’ve got.”
Ms Waters said the incident was etched in her memory, particularly when she returns to Armidale.
“I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again,” she said. “I think you have a certain responsibility to help when you’re trained to that level.”
RFS Region North manager, Superrintendent Michael Burt, spoke proudly of Ms Waters, saying she had become a valuable member of the Northern Rivers RFS since moving here seven months ago.
“She is a great team member and, in her role of community safety officer, has been building great relationships between RFS volunteers and members of the community,” he said.
“Coming across an incident like that a lot of people want to help, but most have no idea what to do. She is one of the rare ones.”
Supt Burt said the Rural Fire Services awards were a huge honour as they recognised the heroic efforts of a handful of the 70,000 volunteers in the service.
They are held each year on St Florian’s Day – the internationally-recognised patron saint of firefighters.
Ms Waters personally received her Commissioner’s Commendation for Service Award from RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons, and NSW Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan.
While reluctant to make a big deal of the award, Ms Waters said it was a proud moment and she enjoyed meeting the top brass – and catching up with colleagues she hadn’t seen for some time.