When Trail native Braedon Mauro flew to Calgary to visit friends in 2013, he didn’t expect to find himself in the middle of an icy highway giving chest compressions, let alone receiving an award nearly two years later.
Just last week, the local nurse was honoured by the Calgary Police Service with an Exceptional Recognition for Valour award for his quick thinking during a multi-vehicle collision on the Deerfoot Trail back in December 2013.
Although he is now back in Trail, working on the medical floor at the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital, the 24-year-old recalled his first thoughts when he noticed a man lying in the middle of the highway, bleeding heavily from his mouth and nose. It was freezing cold and icy, making for very dangerous highway conditions.
“(After narrowly avoiding a collision with a semi truck) I looked ahead and I could see a man lying face up in the middle of the freeway,” he said, sharing how his instinct just kicked in and he yelled for his friend to stop the car.
“He was just lying there, and I just thought there may be a chance that I could help this guy given my knowledge and nursing skills. I wasn’t really thinking much. As soon as I jumped out of the car, I realized there were other vehicles sliding right by us and smashing into the semi and other cars.”
Mauro got back in his friend’s car and when the scene was safe, immediately headed towards the injured man.
“The roads were so slippery I could barely stand, so I was falling all over the place running to try and help this guy,” he said.
“When I got there, there was another lady who turned out to also be a nurse and she told me she couldn’t find a pulse on him. So, we started doing compressions and then I tried to get an open airway, but the gentleman had pretty significant lacerations to his face.”
The pair continued compressions in the -35 C weather for around half an hour before medical help arrived.
“(After doing compressions for five to 10 minutes) a police officer, the one who nominated me for the award, Constable Steve Terry, drives up … and let me know that he called dispatch, but all the ambulances were at max call volume,” relayed Mauro.
“It seemed like quite a while, especially when you are kneeling on frozen ice (giving chest compressions). Your knees would get freezing cold before your arms got tired.”
The ambulance finally arrived after dodging and maneuvering through oncoming traffic. Those on the scene assisted the paramedics in getting the man in the ambulance, at which point, Mauro excused himself, realizing that the injured man was in good hands.
It wasn’t until almost a year-and-a-half later that Mauro heard about the harrowing incident on the Deerfoot Trail, again. He received a voicemail on his phone from Cst. Terry, asking Mauro to call back.
“I though maybe they wanted me to come and testify in court or something about the incident,” said Mauro. “I had no idea. I called him back and he told me that he had nominated me. I was just completely thrown.”
The award ceremony itself was a night full of pomp and circumstance with the Calgary Police Chief and the Calgary Police band on hand to honour Mauro and 17 other award recipients.
“It was crazy. I was out of my element,” he said.
“I had my suit and tie on and it was very prestigious. There was a cocktail reception with champagne getting handed out, and the media was all over the place. It was probably one of the most prestigious things I have ever been to.”