THE traumatic experience of being trapped in a smashed car for two-and-a-half hours left Port Fairy retiree Peter Mahony with a great appreciation for the work of the State Emergency Service.
“We were in a taxi in the ACT and got T-boned by another taxi,” Mr Mahony recalls of the 2007 accident, which happened while he was working as an asphalter.
“I was in the back seat and they had to get the girl in the front out first. I was there for two-and-a-half hours.”
The SES played a vital part in their rescue and Mr Mahony has never forgotten their efforts.
Yesterday, he repaid the service by making a $10,000 donation to the Port Fairy branch of the SES to buy a piece of rescue equipment that, until now, has been beyond the group’s financial reach.
Port Fairy SES controller Stephen McDowell said the combined cutter/spreader had been “top of the wish list” for several years.
“Without Peter’s donation we would have been years away from affording this piece of equipment.”
The Dutch-built Holmatro tool combines the functions of two tools that require two operators. “This combines the work of a cutter and a spreader so one operator can do both. It will speed up rescues. This is something we will use in a lot of situations,” Mr McDowell said.
The jaws of the tool are hydraulically powered from a free-standing petrol engine. “It can be taken to any site and work independently.”
Mr Mahony ended up in hospital for three weeks after the accident and never recovered sufficiently to resume work and has since moved back to Port Fairy.
“You’ve no idea until it happens to you what it’s like to be trapped in a car not knowing what is going to happen next — whether it’s going to catch fire or blow up.”
He was reminded of his own experience in March when an accident in a Port Fairy street left a seriously injured woman trapped.
“It got me thinking about the value of what the SES does and I decided to give them a bit of help.”