Gold Cross Bravery Award following Goldfields semi-trailer emergency

1 February 2021

Each year Royal Life Saving WA receives nominations from across the state for our Royal Life Saving Bravery Awards. The awards are designed to recognise and acknowledge the efforts and actions of everyday people within the Western Australian community who have performed a rescue and/or resuscitation, applying their knowledge to save another’s life. The recognition of these  individuals sends the strongest possible message to the Western Australian public about the importance of gaining CPR, first aid and lifesaving skills.

In 2020, 24 nominations were received for Bravery Awards from across WA, spanning the state from the metropolitan area to the Pilbara and Kimberley, with over 60 individuals awarded for their involvement in these emergencies. One of the 2020 award recipients was recently recognised at the annual Shire of Derby / West Kimberley Australia Day Breakfast.

In 2017, Tristan Judd was a passenger in a fully loaded semi-trailer which was travelling on the Goldfields Highway at approximately 70km/h. The truck driver, Clay, suddenly experienced a major heart attack and collapsed behind the wheel. Tristan says he had to think quickly to save both of their lives and avoid danger for other road users!

“I was actually looking out the passenger window when he said 'I feel dizzy' and fell forwards onto the steering wheel. We were approaching a bend and also a little bridge so I yelled at him and pulled him back. He leaned back and looked at me but he was out of it at that stage, so just as we hit the bend I climbed over the fridge in the middle of the truck and moved his leg away to get it off the accelerator pedal, then I grabbed the wheel as we started heading around the corner. I had to pull the truck up from the passenger seat so that went on for maybe a couple of kilometres. We were on the wrong side of the road for a bit so there could have been some pretty nasty incidents! After that bend there are some factories so we would have been aiming up to run into those too! So I just sort of got us back on the right side of the road and pretty much waited for the truck to stall out and come to a stop.”

Once the truck had stopped, Tristan jumped out and flagged down a passing motorist to help him lift Clay from the truck and onto the road. At this point Clay was unconscious, not breathing and had no pulse. Tristan immediately commenced CPR. “I’ve done a fair bit of first aid training with the jobs I’ve had in construction over the years and as a junior firefighter back in the day so it’s always been something that’s sort of been there. I didn’t even think about what I needed to do I just got into it. We started off on the phone with 000 and they helped talk us through it a bit as well. From the word go it was 25 minutes before they got there so it was 25 minutes worth of CPR, looking after my mate and wanting him to come good and do the best I could until help arrived.”

When the ambulance arrived Clay was taken to the local hospital before being airlifted to Perth for surgery. Tristan says thankfully his friend made a full recovery. “His heart actually stopped a couple of times before he reached Perth, but he did make a 100% recovery, no brain damage or ongoing issues. He wasn’t surprised when he found out I’d helped him because he knows me as a mate. I caught up with him a couple of weeks later when he was given the-all clear, we went out for lunch, had a laugh and he wanted to come back to work the next week! We couldn’t slow him down he felt that good!”

Clay’s amazing recovery was testament to Tristan’s lifesaving response. This was a true act of bravery on Tristan’s part in that under immense pressure he managed to take control of the moving vehicle to prevent a major collision while also trying to save a life. His efforts in removing Clay from the vehicle and performing CPR for so long showed admirable determination and persistence. For this reason, Royal Life Saving WA has awarded Tristan the Gold Cross Bravery Award, which recognises an outstanding rescue or resuscitation. This is one of the highest levels of award and is rarely bestowed. We congratulate Tristan on his outstanding effort!

If you know someone who has taken action to save a life please nominate them for a Royal Life Saving Bravery Award so that we can give them the recognition they deserve. Details can be found at the link below.

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