ACT News


Raging fire, flood the settings for bravery

WHEN Jason and Jodie Roff went house hunting they had no idea they would rescue an elderly couple from a burning house and become heroes.

''I haven't done anything like that before,'' said Jodie, 36.

''We just ran in and did what we had to do.''

The Banks mum and dad will be honoured on Sunday by Governor-General Quentin Bryce, who will award them with a commendation for brave conduct.

It was April 27, 2009, and the couple and their two daughters were driving along Langdon Avenue, Wanniassa, when they saw smoke coming from a house. They drove closer and saw that its garage door was open to about shin height - and a man's arm poking out.

''We saw someone was trying to get out of the garage but couldn't,'' Mrs Roff said.


According to the Roffs, there also was an elderly lady inside who at first would not leave until she found her cat.

The househunters eventually got the elderly couple out of the house and across the road - by this time the top of the old man's head was burnt.

''That was when the car blew up, the roof collapsed and the gas bottles exploded,'' Mrs Roff said.

They are not the only Canberrans to be honoured for their bravery.

Commander Scott Palmer was in charge of a Navy Sea King helicopter crew during the 2011 Queensland floods when he saw a man being swept along a creek.

His crew's main role was to relocate people displaced by floods.

''There was an element of fatigue and a fair bit of adrenalin flowing,'' Commander Palmer said.

''When I spotted the guy in the creek it was an easy decision.

''It wasn't a case of asking for permission.''

The first attempt to save the man using one of the crew members on a winch was aborted as he was swept towards a tree.

The man held on to the tree until he was saved by the crew.

Commander Palmer and three of his fellow crew will be given a group bravery citation for the rescue.

While more than 30 people died in the floods, Commander Palmer now believes the man would not have died.

''The next day we saw the flood waters had receded very quickly from that tree,'' he said.

''He may have spent a long night in that tree.''