Reacting swiftly to save a man who was trying to hang himself from a tree in Beacon Hill Park earned two women Civic Service Awards from Victoria police Thursday.
Lorna Partridge, 60, and Janine Reitsma, 27, had never met before the Jan. 19 incident, but they were able to come together to help the man until emergency crews arrived.
Partridge was driving to the park about 1 p.m. to enjoy a coffee while enjoying the view from her car, near the alpine garden.
“I saw some strange movements just up a hill,” she said.
Something seemed wrong. She got out of her vehicle to investigate and started running up the hill toward a man she had spotted.
“Just as I was about half way up, he hung himself.”
Partridge didn’t hesitate to jump in.
“As I got there, I just reached around his waist and lifted him up to take the pressure off of his throat, and then I started yelling for help and Janine came to my aid.”
Reitsma said she happened to be walking nearby when she heard Partridge, and never would have seen the suicidal man otherwise.
“I just ran towards Lorna’s voice, right through the garden, through the bushes.”
She helped Partridge keep the man elevated while also phoning 911 on her cellphone. Just as that was happening, the scarf the man had hung himself with ripped and he fell to the ground.
“He was breathing once we got the scarf off,” Reitsma said.
Partridge said police and other emergency personnel arrived quickly, within a few minutes.
“Anybody would have done, or should have done, what we did,” Reitsma said.
This marks the fourth time the Civic Service Awards have been given out since they were inaugurated by Victoria police last September.
In a ceremony at Victoria police headquarters, Const. Mike Russell said the awards were created to honour civilians or police officers “who have stepped up and done the right thing in challenging situations.”
He said the rescued man, in his 40s, received attention for his injuries, as well as needed psychological care.
Deputy Police Chief John Ducker lauded the women for their lifesaving actions.
“Today is one of those days that I cherish as a police leader,” he said. “It is wonderful to honour these two outstanding citizens.
“Lorna and Janine, you made the decision to come to the aid of one of our most vulnerable citizens on the day of his greatest need.”
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