Young girl awarded after saving her brother

18 August 2015

On Friday 14 August Royal Life Saving Society WA Keep Watch Coordinator Rachel Murray was delighted to attend a special award presentation at St Emilie's Catholic Primary School in Canning Vale.

The Canning Vale Police presented nine-year-old Bella Gilliland with a Certificate of Recognition on behalf of the City of Armadale. The award was in response to Bella's heroic actions a few weeks prior.

The afternoon of Friday 24 July started out as a normal one for Bella and her younger brothers five-year-old brother Duke and 18-month-old Jobe. The older children were playing outside while Jobe was indoors with mum Danielle. She first realised she had lost sight of him when she heard Bella calling for help from the backyard of their home.

Jobe had fallen into the backyard pool and without hesitation Bella had jumped into the freezing water to save her baby brother. Danielle found Jobe conscious but struggling to breathe after Bella pulled him from the water. After treatment from paramedics and a short stay in hospital he made a full recovery. His relieved parents know that things could have ended very differently if Bella hadn't responded so quickly and were happy to share their story at the presentation and through their local newspaper.

Royal Life Saving Society WA also provided some giveaways for the family and will nominate Bella for a Royal Life Saving Western Power Bravery Award.

Drowning is the leading cause of preventable death in children under the age of 5 and on average almost 40 children are admitted to WA hospitals each year following a drowning incident. Ms Murray says Jobe's story is a reminder that toddler drowning can occur year-round, not only during the summer months. 

"Although we usually aren't thinking about swimming during winter, the pool can still be an enticing prospect for young children. We encourage all parents to remain vigilant, ensure that pool fences remain well-maintained during winter and that trees and furniture are kept away from the pool area," Ms Murray advised.

Royal Life Saving Society WA also recommends that parents check outdoor containers or paddle pools after rain and remind children that rules around the water still apply even when they are not swimming. In the event of a drowning emergency calling 000 immediately and commencing first aid if necessary will allow the best chance of survival.

"In this case we were delighted to hear that Bella's quick-thinking and selfless actions saved her brother's life, demonstrating our key message that everyone can be a lifesaver," said Ms Murray.