Times Colonist

Underwater CPR effort earns Medal of Bravery

- TOM McMILLAN

A Sea King pilot is being given the Medal of Bravery after giving underwater CPR to save a Victoria man from drowning.

Capt. Dennis Mann, a pilot serving aboard HMCS Ottawa, was awarded the medal for his October 2006 rescue of Ron Davies. A year and a half after nearly drowning, Davies says he is still haunted by the experience.

“He was very brave,” said Davies, 70. “Without him, I would have died, absolutely.”

On Oct. 12, 2006, Mann served his last shift onboard HMCS Oriole before starting pilot training. The 25-year-old was ferrying passengers around Esquimalt harbour.

Just after 4 p.m., Mann pulled the Zodiac near the Oriole to offload his last three passengers. But as the men started to move, the inflatable boat’s weight shifted. Its nose thrust downward, taking on water and sending all three passengers into the water, including Davies, who remembers being suddenly thrown overboard and trapped by the spinning motor.

Mann scrambled to the back end and prevented the boat from flipping. Killing the engine, he saw Davies’ hand reaching out of the water.

But when Mann tried to pull Davies into the boat, the 190pound man wouldn’t budge. Dressed in a button-up shirt, dress pants and black sneakers, Mann dived in.

“I don’t actually remember doing it,” he said this week from off the coast of Shanghai. “I was on the boat and then suddenly I was underwater.”

By the time Mann reached Davies, it had been almost 45 seconds since the crash. Fearing Davies was running out of air, Mann pressed Davies’ mouth into his own and breathed into the man’s mouth.

“I’d seen people do it in the movies,” Mann said. “It’s cool to know it actually works.”

After returning to the surface for air, Mann dived again. Reaching over, he helped Davies unfasten the life-jacket, wrapped his arm around Davies’ neck and pulled the man to the surface. “He’d been under for at least a minute,” Mann said. “I wasn’t completely sure he was still alive.”

Mann is one of 26 Canadians to be awarded this year’s medal, which will be presented at a Rideau Hall ceremony later this year.

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