DARLEY man Paul Wilson was in the wrong place at the right time when a horrific car crash left him trapped in a smoking wreckage at the bottom of an embankment on the Bacchus Marsh-Geelong Road last August.
Brothers-in-law Shawn Kennedy, 29, and Josh Davis, 22, and off-duty paramedic Sarah Houghton-Sims, were on the way to work when they happened upon the incident and, without hesitation, sprang into action to save his life.
Now, after months of recovery, Mr Wilson has been reunited with his rescuers.
He was in the audience as Mr Kennedy, of Wallace, and Mr Davis, of Wendouree, were yesterday awarded with Ambulance Victoria bystander commendations in a heartwarming reception at Bacchus Marsh Ambulance Station.
Accepting the honour, both men said they just did what they had to do and the best reward was seeing the car crash survivor up and around.
“It’s good to have a chat with him,” Mr Davis said.
But Mr Wilson said he would not have made it without their help.
“At the end of the day these boys say they just did what they had to do – these boys saved my life,” he said.
The men came across the horrific accident just before 7am on August 1.
A second male driver was killed in the crash.
Police believe his vehicle might have veered onto the wrong side of the Bacchus Marsh-Geelong Road, colliding with Mr Wilson’s car and sending it down the embankment.
In a lucky coincidence, Ms Houghton-Sims heard the Triple-0 call and rushed to assist.
After checking Mr Wilson’s injuries, she made a judgment call and instructed the two men to grab a crowbar and free the trapped driver from the smoking car.
“I had moments to choose and I said ‘no, he’s coming out’,” she said. “The car was a mess. The boys were able to open the rear door and we carried him up the hill.”
Mr Wilson had major lacerations to his knee and head and a long list of broken bones including his foot, ankle, ribs, cheekbone and eye socket.
When emergency services arrived, he was rushed to The Alfred Hospital by air ambulance in a serious but stable condition.
Ms Houghton-Sims said it was the best surprise when he walked into Bacchus Marsh Ambulance Station weeks later to personally say ‘thank you’.
“Even though I wasn’t on duty at the time, it’s moments like that when I realise why I do this job,” she said.