RUTH Sheridan still vividly recalls the night a routine trip into Ballarat turned into one of the most memorable experiences of her life.
Ms Sheridan was driving along Humffray Street on Ballarat Cup night in 2011 when she came across a horror smash in which a car had crashed roof-first into a power pole.
Live power lines were strewn across the road and the car was on fire, but the graduate nurse instantly decided to put her life on the line and help two teenagers who were trapped in the car.
Not once did she stop to consider the danger she was in.
“I had a split-second decision to make as to whether to jump in and help or wait for emergency services,” Ms Sheridan said.
“There were a few other people around. I remember one man had a hose but nobody really seemed to know what to do.”
Acting on instinct, combined with her years of training as a nurse, Ms Sheridan went into action.
Climbing into the car as it burst into flames, she used her cardigan to beat away the smoke and allow the two trapped occupants to breathe.
They had already inhaled a large amount of smoke, so she doused her cardigan in water and put it over their faces to allow them to breathe.
Her heroic act of selflessness last week resulted in the 35-year-old being awarded the silver medal for bravery from the Royal Humane Society of Australasia.
Conceding it was a humbling experience, Ms Sheridan said she laughed the first time she heard she was nominated for the award.
She was one of 30 Victorians to be honoured, but one of just three to receive the rare silver medal.
“It still feels a bit strange but it’s great to be recognised. Not that that’s why you do it of course,” Ms Sheridan said.