St John Ambulance Commuity Hero Awards given to 8 local unsung heroes

Clinton Van Der Westhuyzen with Governor of WA Kerry Sanderson.
Clinton Van Der Westhuyzen with Governor of WA Kerry Sanderson.

THEY were community heroes whose efforts had gone unsung.

That was until the St John Ambulance Community Hero Awards last week.

Eight local residents were recognised for their quick thinking in life-or-death situations.

Major award winners were Clinton Van Der Westhuyzen, of Butler, and Ben Harris, of Marmion.

Mr Van Der Westhuyzen, a critical-care paramedic, helped save the life of a truck driver who was trapped in his vehicle after a head-on collision in February last year.

The victim, Simon Treloar, had a collapsed lung and two broken legs.

Mr Van Der Westhuyzen attempted to relieve pressure in his lung with a needle decompression, but it did not work.

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He diagnosed that Mr Treloar would need a finger thoracostomy, in which a medico inserts a finger through a cut in the patient’s chest.

But he did not have authorisation to perform the procedure.

Luckily, there was an off-duty doctor on the scene, whom Mr Van Der Westhuyzen asked to take on the life-saving measure.

Thanks to Mr Van Der Westhuyzen’s quick diagnosis, the patient survived and is recovering well more than a year later.

As reported in the Weekender last week, Ben Harris saved a fisherman who was rapidly losing blood after a mechanical net nearly tore his foot off on a boat about 200km east of Esperance last year.

Working with his RAC Rescue Helicopter crew, the trio braved extreme weather conditions in fading light to winch the victim, Kye Palmer, to safety.

Heroic local residents, who received a St John Ambulance commendation in the mail, were Chris Lander (Duncraig), Trish Cunningham (Sorrento), Donna Scott (Kinross), Katja Gurney (Butler), Joy Vilbert (Wanneroo) and Allison Ratcliffe (Edgewater).

Ms Scott, Ms Gurney, Ms Vilbert and Ms Ratcliffe saved Woodvale resident Malcolm Meumann, who suffered a heart attack while exercising at a Joondalup park.

Mr Lander and Ms Cunningham also helped in a heart attack situation, when they came to the aid of Terry Harvey, who collapsed at Sorrento Bowls Club.