Heroes grace Whitepages

DAVID O’Brien and Ian Gill regard their rescue of a stranded woman from raging floodwaters at Bonville last year as just another day in SES uniform.

Others think differently.

The scale of their deeds has been recognised with the honour of gracing the cover of the 2010/2011 North Coast Yellow and Whitepages phone books with this image.

Highly decorated with bravery awards, state and local commendations, David and Ian are fully-fledged heroes.

For the North Coast directory from Ballina, to Grafton and Coffs Harbour there was no going past the two local men in orange jumpsuits.

Their brave act during one of the worst floods in recent memory happened after they found a four-wheel-drive that had been swept off a causeway and wedged against a gum tree, trapping the female driver.

When they were roped up and ready to cross, all but three inches of the vehicle was underwater.

Losing their footing, Ian and Dave were pulled under water and retrieved by their support team.

David and Senior Constable Jackson continued with the rescue from a different position.

“When they too were dragged under we pulled and pulled to keep their heads above water,” Ian said.

Eventually they crossed and were able to rescue the woman, within minutes of her drowning.

“To be recognised for this rescue is such an honour,” David said.

“Neither Ian nor I had ever expected to receive such praise, after all, we were just doing our job,” he said.

For their efforts, the men received Director General’s Commendations for Courage - the highest bravery award offered to SES volunteers.

During the floods the Coffs Harbour City Unit carried out the highest number of life threatening flood rescues ever for a single storm event.

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