Paramedics honoured for their bravery

TWO Ulladulla-based ambulance paramedics, who ignored their own safety to treat a seriously injured truck driver at a fatal motor vehicle accident north of Bomaderry last year, have been honoured with bravery awards.

As ethanol from the crashed tanker leaked, with the risk of explosion, husband and wife paramedics James and Natalie Moore were among the first on scene of the crash between a tanker and a Hilux ute on the Princes Highway at Jaspers Brush in December last year.

The pair was presented with Royal Lifesaving Society certificates for bravery by the NSW Governor Marie Bashir at Government House.

The couple were on night shift at the Bomaderry ambulance station on December 15, 2012 when they received the call about the accident shortly after 1.15am.

Mr Moore said it was “a pretty hairy operation”.

“We only received bits and pieces of information about the crash as we were en route,” he said.

“When we arrived on the scene I was about to give a report via radio but we were advised that radios couldn’t be used due to the risk of explosion.”

The tanker, loaded with 52,000 litres of ethanol, had veered into an embankment, tipping over and leaking fuel. 

Due to the volatile situation, a one-kilometre exclusion zone was established and portable radios and mobile phones were not allowed to be used, making communication more difficult.  

The Hilux was damaged beyond recognition and the driver killed instantly. 

When more ambulance paramedics arrived, Mr and Mrs Moore proceeded straight to the truck to treat the injured driver without regard for their own personal safety.  

They were aware of the risks but realised the driver needed urgent medical attention.

The driver of the tanker was seriously injured and trapped in the wreckage, suffering an open head injury, spinal concussion, fractured rib, forearm and shoulder, with lacerations to his face, arms and legs.  

As ethanol continued to gush out, local Rural Fire Service crews sprayed water over the tanker.

“It was a difficult operation but our first thought was about the patient and trying to get him out as quickly and as safely as possible,” he said.

“He was trapped and we just had to do what we could to help him.”

Mr Moore said his first thought, when he learned how dangerous the situation was, was how he could get his wife out of there.

“It was only a fleeting thought, we could blow up here, our kids [the couple have four] could be left as orphans,” he said.

“But there was no way I could do it on my own and Natalie wouldn’t have left anyway, so we just got on with the job.

“With the patient’s condition the way it was I needed her alongside me.”

The officers stayed with the patient, providing reassurance and medical treatment. After being trapped for 45 minutes he was released from the wreckage and taken to Shoalhaven Hospital.

He was later airlifted to a Sydney hospital but died as a result of his injuries.

Mr Moore played down their actions, saying ambulance paramedics and other emergency personnel undertake similar risks every day and, because people often aren’t there to see it, they don’t receive the recognition they often deserve.

“Honestly, ambulance, police and firefighters in the majority of time get into hairy situations but don’t get any recognition,” he said.

“Their efforts often slip under the radar.

“A lot of other people who were at this emergency deserve credit as well.

“It was a real team effort.”

The commendation read: “Their actions showed great courage and composure in this very hazardous situation. They remained calm and professional at all times while having to carry out their duties in an extremely dangerous environment with potentially disastrous consequences.”

Mr Moore has been a paramedic since 1988, while Mrs Moore has been on the job 12 years and also works part-time as a nurse unit manager at a local doctor’s surgery.

“We just go to a job trying to do our best and trying to get the best outcome for our patient,” he said.

“And it hurts when it fails.”

MR and Mrs Moore were among 51 people honoured with Royal Life Saving Commendation Awards. 

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