Council to discuss how to honour hero who saved elderly couple from flood waters

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COOKSTOWN District Council is set to discuss how it will honour a local hero who helped rescue an elderly couple from flood waters last year.

39 year-old Alistair Brisbane saved the pensioners from near death when he spotted their car floating on deep flood waters in the Drummullan area of Kingsmills in January 2011.

The tyre fitter, who is also a part-time firefighter, had been called out to a hearse which had a flat wheel when the undertaker he was helping spotted the pair in the car in flood waters of six to eight feet deep. Alistair used his life saving skills to help bring the pensioners to safety.

On Tuesday night a Notice of Motion was put forward on behalf of councillors Ian McCrea, Maureen Lees and Samuel McCartney to recognise his heroic efforts. Councillor McCrea explained that representation had been put forward to have Mr Brisbane recognised at the council’s annual Civic Awards, but, heroic efforts such as his did not fit the criteria.

Councillor Lees there was currently a “gap” where people like Alistair and their achievements couldn’t be formally recognised by council, such as a civic award.

A decision was taken to discuss the possibility of creating an avenue of recognising Alistair’s efforts in the most appropriate way possible at the new Civic Awards sub-group. The group will also look at how in future it can best recognise the achievements of those in the community who fall outside the criteria for a council award.

Alastair who has worked at Cookstown Tyre Safety Centre for over 18 years has been a fire fighter for over ten years.

He had been sent to the Drumullan area of Kingsmills near Coagh to help Co Armagh undertaker Ian Milne.

Mr Milne was taking a call on his mobile phone while Alastair was changing the tyre and spotted the elderly couple’s car which had became trapped in floodwaters.

He beckoned Alastair whose fire fighting skills came into action. He knew the danger of flood water and went to the water’s edge to help advise the clearly terrified elderly couple.

“I saw the car bobbing up and down behind a hedge,” Alastair told the MAIL last year.

“The car just slightly turned towards us and it became clear there were two elderly people in the car, ” said Alastair who then contacted the emergency services.

“I gave them details as to who I was, directions to use and what we needed,” he said.

“We got across and onto a bank. At that point the car was still floating. It turned around so that the people were actually facing us, about twenty feet away. We didn’t think we could reach them at that point. The water was up to the window sills of the car. They were sitting in it. The water was right up to their chests.

“I just told them to stay calm which is a hard enough thing to do. I told them to stay perfectly still as the car was bobbing back and forth,” he said.

“It was hard to believe they were floating. It was just like a big lake.”

At that stage Alastair spotted a flat bed lorry driving nearby and flagged it down for support.

“The water was absolutely freezing. The poor woman was really shaking. She was trying to hold her handbag out of the water but I told her to let it go, forget about the bag,” he said.

Soon the emergency services arrived. “Getting into the water was a last resort but thankfully we didn’t need to.

“They were very lucky. It was a pure chance we were there,” he said.