Calgarian Liam Davies received a Governor General’s Certificate of Commendation this morning in council chambers for heroically saving his best friend’s life while hiking last fall.
“We are honoured to acknowledge Liam today for his critical thinking and heroic actions in responding to the situation – you are very deserving of this recognition,” said Mayor Dave Bronconnier, speaking on behalf of Governor General Michaëlle Jean.
On October 12, 2009, Liam, a first year Paramedic student at SAIT, and his best friend Mike Alison, were on a day hike at the top of King’s Ridge in Kananaskis Country. Snow levels for that time of year were deeper than expected and made travel down the ridge very dangerous and slippery.
While making their way down the ridge through the trees, normally an easy walk, Mike slipped on some rocks and fell over a four-meter cliff. Picking up speed as he tumbled head-over-heels, Liam watched as Mike fell over a second cliff, in excess of three meters finally stopping 45 meters from where he had initially fallen.
In trying to reach his friend, Liam also slipped and fell over the first cliff but managed to stop himself before going over the second cliff. Upon reaching his friend, who was not breathing, Liam cleared debris and snow from Mike’s mouth. Once Mike began to breathe on his own, Liam began the assessment of both of their injuries which included broken bones, lacerations; profuse bleeding as well as Mike having two open skull wounds.
From his training as a Paramedic student, Liam knew getting out of the back country to attend to Mike’s serious wounds was paramount. After using his shirt to control the bleeding from the two skull wounds, Liam used a backpack to drag Mike down the rest of the mountain slope. For the next five kilometers, Liam used a long stick made into a mock crutch or at times he carried Mike on his back until they could reach their car and drive to the EMS hall at Nakiska Ski Resort for help.
Both Mike and Liam were transported to Foothills hospital where Mike was treated for two serious compound fractures to his skull and a broken thumb while Liam was treated for a large laceration to his calf and a broken leg.
Upon receiving the award, Liam said he’s just happy to be able to go hiking with his buddy Mike again.
In 1993, the Governor General (Ramon John Hnatyshyn) approved the creation of a Certificate of Commendation to be issued to those who have made a significant contribution by providing assistance to another person in a very selfless manner. The Certificate of Commendation is signed by the Governor General and is intended for candidates whose actions are deemed notable by the Canadian Decorations Advisory Committee. The commendation is not automatic; eligible candidates are selected through a voting process.