Thursday, January 13, 2011

Calgary Firefighter Nominated for Award for Saving Drowning Man's Life while Off-Duty

A City of Calgary firefighter is being rewarded for saving the life of a man who nearly drown while swimming in an Osoyoos, British Columbia, lake this summer.

Mathew Smith, who was vacationing at the time, is being recognized by the BC and Yukon Lifesaving Society for the role he played reviving a 39-year-old Mexican migrant worker, who swallowed too much water while swimming after work on June, 21, 2010.

Mathew was at his campsite when he said he heard a commotion coming from the shore. Grabbing his life-saving equipment, hey ran from his resort to the lake.

“I always have a first aid kit with me,” said Smith, “It’s a habit from years working for B.C. Ambulance.”
Smith ran to Osoyoos Lake’s shore, as two bystanders pulled the unconscious man, Bardomiano Hernandez, from the water. Immediately, Smith began to administer CPR, utilizing his years of life-saving training and revived the man before the ambulance arrived.

The Osoyoos Times reported that Hernandez, a father of three, said his rescuers are “great people” who have provided him with a “great opportunity for change” to plans on becoming a better person with his second lease on life.

As for the award, Smith said first aid comes naturally to him, although admittedly saving someone as a member of the public does feel different than doing it while on duty.

“The biggest reward is knowing that the guy is OK and he can go home to his wife and kids,” said Smith, who has been with the Calgary Fire Department since 2009. “I don’t think I deserve an award, I’m living my dream job – I did something I’m trained for. The ordinary people who swam out and rescued the guy are the real heroes.”

In addition to Smith, the Osoyoos RCMP credited Burnaby's David Ehrhardt and Melanie Sullivan, from Osoyoos, with saving the man’s life.

Smith said he hasn’t been able to speak to the other rescuers or Hernandez, although he does hope that one day in the future they can cross paths again, only under better circumstances.

The award ceremony is on March 12, 2011 in Vancouver.

***Photo of Smith and Hernandez by Paul Everest of the Osoyoos Times
***Smith receives Letter of Recognition from Fire Chief Bruce Burrell

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