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Christchurch bravery recognised

Christchurch bravery recognised

Monday, 23 June 2014 - 8:11am


New Zealand Police has welcomed the announcement that four officers and one former officer have received bravery awards for their actions following the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

Acting Senior Sergeant Michael Brooklands, Constables Shane Cowles and Michael Kneebone, former Constable Daniel Lee and Sergeant Danny Johanson have each been awarded the New Zealand Bravery Medal (NZBM) in a special bravery honours list announced today.

The Christchurch officers were all involved in the immediate rescue effort after the 6.3 earthquake struck the city on February 22, 2011.

Acting Senior Sergeant Brooklands, Constables Cowles and Kneebone and former Constable Lee saved at least six people from the collapsed and burning Canterbury Television Building. The officers' lives were at particular risk during the first hour of the rescues as the building's lift tower was disintegrating with each aftershock.

Sergeant Johanson joined a firefighter and two civilian doctors in a rescue operation for a badly-injured man who was trapped in the Pyne Gould Corporation Building and in danger of bleeding to death. Working in a confined space and with aftershocks threatening the area he was in, Sergeant Johanson assisted in the amputation of the man's legs, allowing him to be freed. The man survived.

The two doctors and the firefighter have also been recognised in today's bravery honours.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush welcomed the recognition of the officers' actions.

"These officers put their own safety at risk to save the lives of others in dangerous, difficult and very distressing situations. They should all be very proud of what they did that day, as should everybody who responded to this tragedy."

Mr Bush said the officers were among the thousands of Police, emergency service staff and members of the public who responded in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake and the thousands more who assisted in Christchurch during the national emergency.

"The way Police, other emergency services, Defence Force personnel and members of the public responded that day and in the days, weeks and months that followed was a credit to them all," Mr Bush said.

Several Police officers have previously received Royal Honours in New Year or Queen's Birthday lists for work which included their roles during the Christchurch earthquake and the national emergency that followed.

More than 3200 Police staff, Australian officers who were temporarily sworn in as New Zealand Police and some emergency workers and specialist recovery personnel were awarded Police Commissioner's citations for their work in Christchurch during the national emergency. They are among the more than 5000 Police staff and others who received Commissioner's Certificates of Appreciation for their work in the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.

The citations for the officers who have received bravery awards today follow.

The New Zealand Bravery Medal

BROOKLANDS, Acting Senior Sergeant Michael (Mike):
Sergeant Michael Brooklands (now Acting Senior Sergeant) was on duty in central Christchurch when the 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck on 22 February 2011. He was one of the first Police officers to arrive at the collapsed Canterbury Television building, and took immediate command at the site. He contacted Police Communications and gave them a situation report, requesting Fire Service and other assistance. A fire had ignited in the lower levels of the building, complicating rescue efforts. Sergeant Brooklands worked with three other Police officers on the roof of the building to conduct several rescues amongst the rubble of the building’s lift tower. Their lives were at particular risk during the first hour when they were working under the precarious lift tower that was disintegrating with each aftershock. They were initially able to free a woman and two children. The Police officers then searched for audible tapping or voices and managed to pinpoint the locations of at least eight survivors. Where possible the officers dug down to the survivors they located and using stretchers sourced from the nearby Inland Revenue building, carried the survivors to waiting medical personnel. They heard a woman calling for help in the burning area of the building and made several attempts to reach her from outside the building, with only wet clothing wrapped around their heads to protect against the heat and smoke. This occurred before the Fire Service had arrived on the scene. Due to a brief change in wind direction they were able to climb down inside the building, reach the woman and pull her free. As well as climbing into the building and assisting with rescuing survivors, Sergeant Brooklands assumed control and deployment of staff at the site. He communicated clearly with the Police communications centre, identifying the site needs. He established a grid pattern for the building search and assigned staff to specific areas, as well as initiating the establishment of a triage and mortuary facility. Sergeant Brooklands remained the Police controller at the site until 3.00am the following morning.

The New Zealand Bravery Medal

COWLES, Constable Shane:
When the 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch on 22 February, Constable Shane Cowles was one of the first Police officers in attendance at the collapsed Canterbury Television building. A fire had ignited in the lower levels of the building, complicating rescue efforts. Constable Cowles worked with three other Police officers on the roof of the building to conduct several rescues amongst the rubble of the building’s lift tower. Their lives were at particular risk during the first hour when they were working under the precarious lift tower that was disintegrating with each aftershock. They were initially able to free a woman and two children. The Police officers then searched for audible tapping or voices and managed to pinpoint the locations of at least eight survivors. Where possible the officers dug down to the survivors they located and using stretchers sourced from the nearby Inland Revenue building carried the survivors to waiting medical personnel. They heard a woman calling for help in the burning area of the building and made several attempts to reach her from the outside of the building, with only wet clothing wrapped around their heads to protect against the heat and smoke. This occurred before the Fire Service had arrived on the scene. Due to a brief change in wind direction they were able to climb down inside the building, reach the woman and pull her free. The efforts of Shane Cowles and the other Police officers rescued at least six people from the CTV site.

The New Zealand Bravery Medal

JOHANSON, Sergeant Danny:
When the 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch on 22 February, Senior Constable Danny Johanson (now Sergeant) was deployed with a Police unit carrying advanced medical kits and specialist equipment into the inner-city area. The team used concrete cutting equipment at several sites and were at the forefront of several rescues at both the Pyne Gould Corporation and Canterbury Television buildings.
Senior Constable Johanson joined a firefighter and two civilian doctors in a rescue operation for a man who was trapped inside the PGC building. The man was in danger of bleeding to death with his legs pinned between a concrete pillar and a collapsed floor section. Senior Constable Johanson assisted with a complete double amputation of the man’s legs with a hacksaw and penknife. Inside the dark conditions of the collapsed building Senior Constable Johanson climbed into a confined area beside the trapped man, lying on a staircase with his feet above him in order to access the area to be operated on. The man was anesthetised with morphine and ketamine and tourniquets applied to both legs. The civilian doctor performing the amputation became fatigued and passed the hacksaw to Senior Constable Johanson, the second doctor and the firefighter who took turns in completing the operation. The man was loaded onto a tarpaulin and carried to ambulance staff waiting outside the building. Several aftershocks hit during the operation, threatening to compromise the area Senior Constable Johanson was working in. The man survived due to their efforts.

The New Zealand Bravery Medal

KNEEBONE, Constable Michael:
When the 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch on 22 February, Constable Michael Kneebone was one of the first Police officers in attendance at the collapsed Canterbury Television building. A fire had ignited in the lower levels of the building, complicating rescue efforts. Constable Kneebone worked with three other Police officers on the roof of the building to conduct several rescues amongst the rubble of the building’s lift tower. Their lives were at particular risk during the first hour when they were working under the precarious lift tower that was disintegrating with each aftershock. They were initially able to free a woman and two children. The Police officers then searched for audible tapping or voices and managed to pinpoint the locations of at least eight survivors. Where possible the officers dug down to the survivors they located and using stretchers sourced from the nearby Inland Revenue building carried the survivors to waiting medical personnel. They heard a woman calling for help in the burning area of the building and made several attempts to reach her from outside the building, with only wet clothing wrapped around their heads to protect against the heat and smoke. This occurred before the Fire Service had arrived on the scene. Due to a brief change in wind direction they were able to climb down inside the building, reach the woman and pull her free, but were engulfed by smoke and flames and unable to go further into the building to look for more survivors. The efforts of Michael Kneebone and the other Police officers rescued at least six people from the CTV site.

The New Zealand Bravery Medal

LEE, Mr Daniel:
When the 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch on 22 February, Mr Daniel Lee, formerly Constable Lee of the New Zealand Police, was one of the first Police officers in attendance at the collapsed Canterbury Television building. A fire had ignited in the lower levels of the building, complicating rescue efforts. Constable Lee worked with three other Police officers on the roof of the building to conduct several rescues amongst the rubble of the building’s lift tower. Their lives were at particular risk during the first hour when they were working under the precarious lift tower that was disintegrating with each aftershock. They were initially able to free a woman and two children. The Police officers then searched for audible tapping or voices and managed to pinpoint the locations of at least eight survivors. Where possible the officers dug down to the survivors they located and using stretchers sourced from the nearby Inland Revenue building carried the survivors to waiting medical personnel. They heard a woman calling for help in the burning area of the building and made several attempts to reach her from outside the building with only wet clothing wrapped around their heads to protect against the heat and smoke. This occurred before the Fire Service had arrived on the scene. Due to a brief change in wind direction they were able to climb down inside the building, reach the woman and pull her free, but were engulfed by smoke and flames and unable to go further into the building to look for more survivors. The efforts of Daniel Lee and the other Police officers rescued at least six people from the CTV site.

ends

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