A NATIONAL water safety charity has awarded a Newbury firefighter its highest accolade after he saved the life of a two-year-old girl while on a family holiday earlier this year.
Oliver Parker was awarded the Roll of Honour by the Swimming Teachers’ Association (STA), a charity dedicated to the teaching of swimming and water safety.
As reported in the Newbury Weekly News in April, Mr Parker, 33, was on holiday in Dubai with his pregnant wife and two young daughters when he spotted a two-year-old girl named Erin unconscious in the pool.
Thanks to Mr Parker’s quick thinking and actions he began CPR and after three minutes Erin’s eyes opened and she took a deep breath.
The young girl from Finland made a full recovery and spent the last few days of her holiday playing as if nothing had happened.
Mr Parker said: “At the time, in that split second it was like everyone around the pool froze in time, in shock.
“I’m not sure if it was my fire service training or the fact of being a dad that made me react so quickly, but it did bring home to me that ‘knowing’ what to do in an emergency and ‘actually’ doing it are two totally different things.”
He added: “I was amazed by how quickly a person can react to CPR and the immediate positive effects.
“It will be a day I will never forget, and I was so pleased to see Erin when she returned from hospital playing as normal.”
Mr Parker also revealed that his actions have inspired friends and family to seek out first aid training and learn CPR.
Mr Parker said: “I’ve been really surprised with the response to this story and I’m very proud to be recognised by STA with a Roll of Honour.
“If by sharing this story, which can truly happen to anyone, and showing the importance of CPR training and the immediate positive effects it can have on saving of a life, then great, there have been two positive outcomes.”
It is only the eighth time in 17 years that the Roll of Honour has been awarded by STA.
STA president Richard Timms presented the award on Saturday, and said: “Faced with a terrifying, split-second situation like this, especially with a child, panic can set in for even the bravest.
“But thankfully Oliver didn’t panic, and his quick thinking and actions that day saved this young girl’s life.”
“Oliver is fully-deserving of this honour.”