Tuesday 28 January 2020

Courage is in the blood for family of brave paramedic

Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

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 family were on a canoeing trip on the River Barrow at Graiguenamanagh, Co Kilkenny, on April 19, 2011.

"Instinct took over and he ran," said Breda.

They had seen the woman circling the carpark before suddenly revving the engine and driving off the slipway.


By the time Martin reached the river's edge, the car was submerged in 13ft of water.

He dived in and managed to pull the driver's door open. He tried to pull her but she was holding the steering wheel.

"I couldn't get her out and I had to come up for air," Martin said. "The second time I grabbed her and she kind of popped up and I pulled her in."

He received a silver medal and certificate at the National Bravery Awards at Farmleigh House in Dublin's Phoenix Park.

Other award winners included 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 outside the Central Bank in Dublin in 2009.

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.

• Recipients: Martin Whitmore, Slieverue, Co Kilkenny; Eric Grundy, Skerries, Co Dublin; Gareth Nathan, Ranelagh, Dublin; Garda John Hennessy, Garda Shaun Brosnan, and Garda Mary Lonergan, Clonmel garda station, Co Tipperary; Noel Wall, Ballyclerihan, Co Tipperary; Garda Trevor Keating and Garda James Conneely, Sligo garda station, Co Sligo; Rory O'Connor, Sligo, Co Sligo; Pearse Ward, Cabra, Dublin; Frank McManamon, Newport, Co Mayo; Garda Thomas McKenna, Kilmainham garda station, Dublin; Garda Tommy Fay, Bailieboro, Co Cavan; Sean Sharkey, Virginia, Co Cavan.

Irish Independent

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