A QUICK-thinking garda who risked his life by entering a burning house to save a man’s life has been honoured with a national award for bravery.
In conditions of almost zero visibility, Garda John Hennessy, 33, from Kilmallock entered a house at Ballyclerihan outside Clonmel where he discovered a man unconscious in his bedroom.
Those in attendance at the National Bravery Awards ceremony at Farmleigh House in Dublin’s Phoenix Park, heard how Garda Hennessy was forced to leave the house to get fresh air but returned again to rescue the middle-aged man.
“We were on patrol in the van when there was a 999 call made that there was a house fire with the possibility that there was someone still inside,” Garda Hennessy told the Leader this week.
“When we got there, the neighbours said that they heard coughing and spluttering inside in the house. When we looked in, all the front sitting-room was on fire and the ceilings were collapsing,” he added.
Garda Hennessy along with his colleagues Garda Shaun Brosnan and Garda Mary Lonergan from Clonmel station went around the back of the bungalow where they decided to pry open a window. “The neighbours were adamant that there was someone inside so I jumped in and looked around the house and found the man inside in his bedroom by the side of his bed, slumped over, unconscious. The whole room was filled with smoke - there was zero visibility,” he explained.
“The smoke was getting on top of me for a while so I made my way back out to the window and caught my breath again,” he continued.
Having regained his composure, Garda Hennessy went back inside with Garda Brosnan.
“At this stage the ceiling was on fire above us, flames were coming in under the door. Myself and Sean lifted the man out to Mary who was coordinating the rescue from outside.”
CPR was administered on the man before the emergency services arrived. “The ambulance and the fire brigade were fierce quick which was a massive factor,” said Garda Hennessy. “He was brought to hospital and he made a full recovery.”
Garda Hennessy and Garda Brosnan were awarded silver medals for their efforts while Garda Lonergan received a certificate for bravery. Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil, Seán Barrett TD, who presented the awards on behalf of the Deeds of Bravery Council said such heroism too frequently went unacknowledged. It was absolutely right, he said, that individuals be honoured for their endeavours.
Garda Hennessy was supported at last Friday’s ceremony by his wife Nicola and daughter Aimee, his parents Michael and Philomena and his brother Michael. Garda Hennessy’s daughter Aimee has also made the headlines in the past – the little girl was so small at birth that her father’s wedding band could fit around her arm. Aimee was born weighing a mere 1lb 3oz but is now thriving and looking forward to her first birthday in January.
Garda Hennessy was also involved in a dramatic rescue of a woman who crashed her car outside Clonmel three months ago. “Her petrol tank exploded, I went into the car and kept her airways open while the car burnt down around us,” he explained.