The rare UFBA Valour Medal was this evening awarded to Christchurch Senior Firefighter Scott Shadbolt for his exceptional bravery saving human life in the immediate aftermath of the devastating Canterbury earthquake in February 2011.
Scott assisted others in the rescue of a heavily trapped man with crush injuries below both knees in the collapsed six storey Pyne Gould Corporation building.
Lengthy efforts to free the man failed and because of his deteriorating condition it was decided to seek medical help and to undertake a double above-knee amputation.
Accompanied by two Doctors and a Police Officer, Scott worked in a confined space completing the amputations using improvised tools enduring numerous aftershocks. The trapped man was successfully rescued and has since made a full recovery. Scott continued to work at the building following this act until late into the night.
Bryan Styles, United Fire Brigades’ Association (UFBA) President, paid tribute to Senior Firefighter Shadbolt who received the prestigious Valour Medal as well as 83 Firefighters who received Valour Certificates for their courageous efforts saving human lives.
“I am extremely proud of the bravery shown by these Firefighters who went above and beyond the call of duty to save others in the continuing aftershocks,” said Bryan. “The individual stories of bravery being recognised here today are outstanding and extremely humbling.”
The recipients effected rescues in the debris and remains of numerous quake-affected buildings despite sharp aftershocks, working in confined spaces in damaged buildings that risked further collapse. The UFBA President noted that the recipients represent many others who worked alongside them.
Equally worthy were the team who worked with Senior Firefigher Shadbolt, but the rules of the UFBA do not allow for non-UFBA members to receive the medal. "Given our organisational culture built on our strong emphasis on teamwork, mate ship, and family it is not possible for this award to be viewed as an individual medal, as nothing happens without all our training, resources, support and team work all based on an overwhelming desire to do simply, the right thing," said Scott.
The Valour Medal has been coined ‘the rarest bravery award in the world’ - and it may well be. Conceived by the UFBA in 1880, only two New Zealand medals are older - the 1869 New Zealand Medal and New Zealand Cross for service and gallantry during the New Zealand Land Wars. These are no longer awarded. The Valour Certificate is equally rare with the last being awarded in 1892.
The Valour Medal has only ever been awarded three times. This is the first time in over one hundred years. Previous nominations have been unsuccessful: the actions, though brave and selfless, failed to meet the test: applicants must exhibit “exceptional personal courage while saving, or attempting to save, human life and, in doing so, they may have placed their own life in danger”. Read more here.
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