BALLARAT’S top traffic cop says he has never seen a greater act of bravery from a regular citizen than that of Melbourne nurse Ruth Sheridan at the scene of a horror car crash in Ballarat in 2011.
Ms Sheridan will today be honoured with a highly prestigious silver medal for bravery from the Royal Humane Society of Australasia, for her heroic act of selflessness at a disastrous car crash on the evening of Ballarat Cup day two years ago.
The Melbourne-based nurse, who grew up in Ballarat, risked her own life to save a group of teenagers in a fiery wreckage after their car crashed into a pole on Humffray Street South.
With the early model Holden Commodore still in flames when she arrived on the scene before police and fire crews, Ms Sheridan courageously protected the occupants of the car with a cardigan off her own back.
With live power lines strewn across the road, she started beating down flames with her cardigan, before wetting the cardigan and placing it on the faces of the two trapped teenagers to help them recover from smoke inhalation.
At this stage the car was still on fire after crashing roof first into a power pole.
Ballarat Highway Patrol Senior Sergeant Pat Cleary heaped praise on Ms Sheridan for her valour in such a life-threatening circumstance.
Senior Sergeant Cleary even went as far as saying he had never seen a greater act of bravery in his 30 years in the police force.
“Ruth is an exceptionally brave lady,” he said.
“She was knowingly putting herself in danger for the safety of others – that is a fact.
“Any community in the world would be better with somebody like Ruth in it. She is worth her weight in gold.”
Of the 30 Victorian people to be presented with bravery awards, Ms Sheridan is one of just three to receive silver medals and said it was a huge honour.
“It’s all a bit strange, but it is very nice to be recognised,” Ms Sheridan said.
“At the time I didn’t think twice, I saw young people trapped in a burning wreckage and knew I had to help.”
Ms Sheridan said she wanted to thank the police and volunteers who also worked tirelessly to help those trapped.
One posthumous medal will also be presented today, with the remaining recipients to be awarded either bronze medals or certificates of merit.
Royal Humane Society of Australasia secretary Sue Cutler said gold medals were extremely rare, but anybody who received a silver medal had also displayed an exceptional amount of courage.