IT was dad up on the stage accepting the bravery award – but this rescue operation was a family affair.
Off-duty paramedic Martin Whitmore rescued a woman from a car she had driven into a river, while on land his wife Breda dialled 999 as their two sons Oisin (11) and Cian (9) ran to fetch blankets.
The drama unfolded as the family were on a canoeing trip on the River Barrow at Graiguenamanagh, Co Kilkenny, on April 19, 2011.
"Instinct took over and he ran," explained Breda.
Moments earlier, they had seen the woman circling the carpark at the quay before suddenly revving the engine and driving off the slipway.
He dived in, swam down and managed to pull the driver's door open.
"I couldn't get her out," recalled Martin. "The second time I went down I grabbed her and she kind of popped up and I pulled her in . . . When she broke the surface I could hear her coughing."
Martin yesterday received a silver medal and certificate of bravery at the National Bravery Awards at Farmleigh House in Dublin's Phoenix Park.
He was one of 15 people recognised for their courage.
Other award winners included friends Pearse Ward (25) from Cabra, Dublin, and Frank McManamon (26) from Newport, Co Mayo, who came to the aid of a woman who was being harassed by a man outside the Central Bank in Dublin in the early hours of June 28, 2009.
The friends managed to wrestle the attacker to the ground and held him until gardai arrived.
"I think it was just adrenaline – fight or flight," said Pearse.
And Garda John Hennessy from Clonmel has been notching up the rescues since he pulled a man from a burning house in November 2010.
"I've had two more since; I rescued a woman out of a burning car and three nights ago, I was at another house fire," he said.