Good men for a crisis

Damian O’Brien is flanked by the two young men who saved him, Ollie and Jake Dean.
Damian O’Brien is flanked by the two young men who saved him, Ollie and Jake Dean.

Now the Edgewater resident wants to see brothers Ollie and Jake Dean recognised with bravery awards for saving him on a fateful January day this year in Bali.

DAMIAN O’Brien’s life hung in the balance.

Not long into a downhill mountain bike tour in Bali, a pothole sent the 52-year-old and his world into a spin.

Fellow rider Ollie Dean, a young man from Sorrento whom the businessman and relationship counsellor had struck up a conversation with in the van ride to the mountain, heard the crash and feared the worst.

He and his younger brother Jake were riding just ahead of Damian, and the three, who’d found they had much in common in their first meeting, were the only holidaymakers on the tour.

By the time Ollie braked and dropped his bike to run back, he was already in ‘critical incident mode’, he told the Weekender last week.

The then 19-year-old had done senior first aid and had decided to start nursing at ECU Joondalup.

His first sight of Damian confirmed his fears. He was limp and blood had already pooled on the road under his head.

He took control, with the tour guides not knowing first aid ” they had allowed Damian on his back and he was starting to swallow his tongue ” and refusing to call an ambulance.

He asked his brother to keep watch for traffic and to follow his instructions.

Ollie nursed Damian through seizures, trying to keep his airway clear and his head from hitting the ground before convincing the guides, who’d practically given Damian up for dead, to drive him to a hospital.

In the van, he propped up his patient, who was in and out of consciousness, and talked to him about his wife Donna, family and work, all the things they had discussed ‘without taking a breath’ in the hour before the bike ride.

Two hours later, after determining two medical centres could not care for Damian, Ollie saw him into a hospital in rural Ubud.

He demanded staff take a head scan and ring Donna.

A CT scan showed contusions and clusters of brain bleeds.

He stayed with Damian until he was rushed to Siloam Hospital in Kuta where he was seen by a neurosurgeon and remained in intensive care, much of it in terrible pain, with Donna by his side, for three weeks until his evacuation to Perth for further treatment.

Although he cannot remember the injury and care in Bali, Damian knows he would not be alive if not for Ollie.

Ollie knows that too and says the incident has benefited him and his brother.

<p class="BTBodynewlowed me to view life in a positive manner,' he said.

‘It has made me realise everything in life happens for a reason.’

It also confirmed his decision to become a nurse.

He wants to remain in contact with Damian for a ‘very, very long time’.

Damian, who recently met up with the boys at his Edgewater home, said he would be ‘forever thankful to these lads’.

‘A ‘thank you’ feels shallow to me as I owe my life to Ollie who had Jake’s support at a critical time.

‘I have difficulty in finding words to honour and acknowledge their efforts on that day 27-1-14.

‘I feel Ollie is a kindred spirit.

‘I’d hope that the three of us can stay in contact for the rest of our lives and that I get the opportunity to help them out at some stage, in some way.’

Damian has nominated Ollie and Jake for several awards, including a Royal Life Saving WA Bravery Award.

‘I feel the actions taken by this 19-year-old were extraordinary to say the least,’ he wrote as part of his submission. ‘I would have died that day without Ollie’s bravery and interventions’