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Hero towie honoured for saving woman's life


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STOPPED at a red light, tow truck driver Deon Atkins said he knew a serious crash had just unfolded.


That turn of events placed him among the first on scene and in the position to save a woman's life.


As The Advocate reported in January, Deon climbed into the wreckage of a crushed car on the Pacific Highway where the 58-year-old female driver lay unconsious slumped at the wheel.


Relying on his training as a former firefighter, Deon performed first aid on the woman, clearing her airways and reviving her prior to paramedics arriving on scene.


The Holden Astra had been t-boned at the South Coffs intersection by a Nissan Navara towing a horse float after the sedan pulled out of Thompsons Rd in front of the southbound 4WD, police said.


Praised by Coffs Harbour paramedics on the day of the crash, Deon has three months on been presented with a prestigious Highway Guardian Award by the Australian Transport Association, one of the highest honours bestowed by the national trucking industry.


"It is a humbling honour and one I wasn't expecting," Deon, the hero towie from North Coast Towing said.


"Having been in the emergency services, I just reacted the way I have been trained," the former Coffs Harbour Fire and Rescue firefighter of 29-years experience explained.


"On that day I was sitting at the Hurley Dr lights after having just dropped off a car on a routine job and was on my way home after finishing that job.


"Looking down the highway I saw all the debris and dust going everywhere down at that intersection.


"I knew it was a serious crash and that's how I found myself on scene, in the right place at the right time," Deon said

"Yeah I guess if I never got that red light I wouldn't have been on scene so quickly.


"A few weeks ago, I was in Woolworths and the woman's daughter came up to me to say thank you for saving her mum's life, it was a special thing, and I'm honoured by this recognition."


This isn't the first time Deon has performed a lifesaving rescue in his six years as a local tow truck driver.


It has been noted by our readers, that Deon rescued a woman from a flooded car in Argyll St, Coffs Harbour in 2009 and later helped a woman from an overturned vehicle at Sapphire.





Heroic tow truck driver wins Guardian Award

A Coffs Harbour-based tow truck driver, who helped save the life of woman in January, has been recognised by the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) with the Bridgestone Bandag Highway Guardian Award.


North Coast Towing driver, Deon Atkins, received the accolade last Friday during a gala event at the National Trucking Industry Awards in Canberra.


While driving his truck on the Pacific Highway 17 January, Atkins came across an accident in which he stopped, and came to the aid of a woman slumped across her steering wheel.


“I jumped out of my truck, opened her airway and kept her breathing until the ambulance arrived,” he recalled. “I reached in through the driver’s window, which was smashed, and supporting her head and neck, lifted her up into her seat so I could get the airway open.”


An ex-fire fighter, Atkins swiftly put to use his first aid training. NSW Ambulance Acting Inspector Jacinta Young, who was the responding paramedic, hailed Atkins' heroic actions, confirming he likely prevented a fatality.


“The actions of Deon Atkins saved her life," said Young. "By simply opening up her airway and maintaining her head in the neutral position, we have no doubt he saved her life."


The ATA Bridgestone Bandag Highway Guardian Award honours heroic and selfless acts performed by members of the trucking community. The award, created in part to bring greater focus to these exceptional incidents, provides another platform in which to contribute to road safety awareness.


Bridgestone Australia and New Zealand Managing Director, Andrew Moffatt, said his company was delighted to spotlight the astounding efforts of truck drivers who go beyond their call of duty.


“Deon Atkins is another stand out of the trucking fraternity who doesn’t see himself as a hero, but has prevented the loss of a life through his quick thinking and direct actions,” he said.


ATA Chairman, Geoff Crouch, said Deon Atkins and companies like North Coast Towing serve as a helpful reminder of the benefits for effective training and safety procedures in the industry.


“Deon was able to call on his training, assess the situation and then perform the relevant actions – all while remaining calm and in control of the situation," said Crouch. “North Coast Towing and Deon prove that all trucking companies, from small operators through to major fleets have a role to play in road safety.”



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