A Charlottetown teen that rescued a drowning woman about a year-and-a-half ago was given the red carpet treatment this weekend.
© Guardian photo by Mitch MacDonald
Summerside resident Vance Bridges honoured for 37 years of volunteer service at the provincial Red Cross annual general meeting Saturday.
Sherwood resident Coady MacDougall, 17, was honoured with a Rescuers Award at the provincial Canadian Red Cross annual general meeting at the Rodd Charlottetown hotel Saturday.
The award is nominated from the public and honours non-professional rescuers or off-duty first responders who voluntarily take steps that save a life, prevent further injury or comfort the injured.
MacDougall, who was 15-years-old when the incident happened, said it was an honour to receive the award.
“It’s really important and a big deal,” said MacDougall, who described himself as being at the right place during the right time. “I never even thought about it, I just jumped in (the water).”
MacDougall was fishing mackerel near the wharf at Nine Mile Creek when he noticed a man leaning over unsuccessfully trying to reach his wife, who had fallen in the water and was stuck between the wharf and a boat.
The woman, who was not a swimmer, was yelling for help by the time MacDougall got to the wharf.
While he first tossed a life ring to the woman, which she was unable to get around her, MacDougall sprang into action and jumped into the water when she started sinking and appeared to slip from consciousness.
MacDougall had previously told The Guardian it took all his strength to push the woman out from the roughly 10-foot deep water while two other men, including MacDougall’s uncle, pulled her out.
Much of the teenager’s family was on hand Saturday to see the presentation.
“My family has been very supportive,” he said.
Laura Montigny, P.E.I. provincial director of the Canadian Red Cross, described MacDougall’s story as “amazing”
Montigny noted that when she contacted MacDougall about receiving the award, the modest teen said something to the effect of “it’s what anyone would have done.”
“But it really wasn’t. It was an act of heroism,” said Montigny. “It’s really an amazing story when a 15-year-old saves a woman so we wanted to throw out the red carpet for him.”
MacDougall wasn’t the only one honoured Saturday.
A group of water safety chairladies was also honoured, while Summerside native Vance Bridges was recognized for 37 years of volunteerism with the group.
Montigny said Red Cross is fortunate to have a large number of volunteers.
“It’s very humbling to see not only how many we have, but how many years of dedicated service they’ve given,” she said. “Vance Bridges is one of those examples.”
While Bridges will be honoured with a milestone award after 40 years, Montigny said the group wanted to also recognize him this year. Bridges had helped with the group’s upcoming move into a new provincial headquarters this spring on Paramount Drive in Charlottetown, a project which has been several years in the works.
Bridges received a brick plaque with his name and 37 years of service engraved into the front.
Having served in numerous roles with the organization during that time, including as council president, Bridges said receiving the award felt incredible.
“I’ve volunteered in a number of organizations, off and on, but Red Cross has always seemed to have enough appeal to continue doing it,” he said. “Whenever there was a job to be done, I tried to help out.
“It’s an incredible organization to be in almost 200 countries. There’s a lot of very dedicated people who help out and I’m just pleased to be one of them.”