Highest award to ex-Gympie fireman
THIRD-generation firefighter Russell Von Nida has been granted the highest honour by the Royal Humane Society of Australasia for risking his life to save others at Grantham during flash flooding in 2011.
The Beenleigh station officer grew up in Gympie and is the son of local firefighter Bob Von Nida, who has served 26 years at the Gympie station.
He was awarded the 2011 Clarke Gold Medal for braving extreme conditions during the Grantham floods to rescue more than 15 civilians.
Mr Von Nida and another Queensland Fire and Rescue officer joined the Australian Defence Force on board a Black Hawk helicopter to rescue residents stuck on their sheds and roofs, surrounded by rising floodwaters.
They battled hidden debris and hazards to reach stranded adults and children, secure them to the winch and escort them to safety.
The pair was presented the award - the highest honour appointed by the society - at Government House in Canberra earlier this month.
They join an elite group of emergency services personnel who have been awarded the prestigious medals by the Royal Humane Society of Australasia.
Mr Von Nida, a former Gympie High School student, was unavailable for comment yesterday and family members were reluctant to "blow their own trumpet", but his proud father Bob said the medal presentation was "pretty special".
"It's certainly satisfying to see one of your children do so much good for the community and to see acknowledgement for it is a bonus," he said.