Lifesaving effort rewarded following holiday drama

23 November 2016

In early October last year, a group of families was enjoying their annual holiday at a farm stay in Moore River, 90 kilometres north of Perth. As a group of the adults prepared for an adventure race at the farm and nearby river some of the children had gone to play with an old rope swing.

7 year old Charley Willison was among these children, and he decided to get adventurous,swinging on the rope which had been disused and no longer stretched out over the river. As he swung out he lost his grip and was flung into the air, coming down on the rocky riverbank head first.  Charley then slipped down into the water and was submerged under a tree branch.

Tammy Cuff, who was with a group of adults having morning tea nearby, saw Charley fall and raced straight down the riverbank to assist him. Despite suffering from a broken coccyx at the time herself Tammy made her way into the water, picking up Charley and screaming for help. tammy says “I rushed down and pulled him out. I could just see his little blue eyes looking up at me. He was unconscious and the water was sucking up into his lungs.”

Charley’s father ran down and assisted Tammy to get the little boy up the embankment, awhere Charley regained consciousness but began coughing and screaming. He had been underwater for about 20 seconds, had a large lump on the back of his head so they decided he needed urgent medical attention.

Tammy immediately offered to get her car and drove Charley towards Perth, while another friend Rachel, who is a GP, phoned the ambulance. Rachel was worried about Charley’s deteriorating condition and urged Tammy to hurry.

Tammy remained calm throughout the entire incident and was able to safely meet the ambulance on Indian Ocean Drive at Yanchep, with paramedics then taking over and transporting Charley to Joondalup Hospital where a team of medical staff was waiting. 

Charley was diagnosed with severe concussion and bruising to the brain and spent two days in hospital. It took several weeks for him to fully recover, but thanks to Tammy's bravery and quick actions he was soon back to being an active and happy little boy.

Tammy was recently awarded a Royal Life Saving Society Gold Medallion Bravery Award for her efforts.

Do you know someone who's saved a life? Why not nominate them for a Royal Life Saving Society Bravery Award?