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Nicole had just minutes to live before Rod's quick actions saved her life
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Image of Cassie Rowe MLA, Matt Didcoe, Rod Balkovitch, Nicole Tolhurst, Minister David Michael, Adrian Warner standing in front of microphones with an ambulance in the background

Cassie Rowe MLA, Matt Didcoe, Rod Balkovitch, Nicole Tolhurst, Minister David Michael, Adrian Warner

Twenty-four-year-old Nicole Tolhurst had just minutes to live before Rod Balkovitch’s quick actions saved her life.

The day started out like any other for Rod, who was driving to work when he witnessed Nicole’s car being hit by another vehicle and careering into a wall. 

'There was dead silence. I was petrified. I hesitated for a moment before my instincts kicked in,' said Rod, who ran towards the car, yelling out to an onlooker to call an ambulance. 

'I was so scared to look inside the car and I will never forget the scene that confronted me as long as I live,' he said. 

Nicole was unconscious, slumped over the steering wheel and her face was turning blue. It takes only four minutes for a road trauma victim with no serious injuries to die from a blocked airway. 

Thankfully Rod had completed a St John’s Ambulance refresher course six months previously, which empowered him to act quickly. 

'I think everyone would like to help but don’t have the confidence,' he said. 

Entering by the passenger side, he lifted Nicole’s chin to clear her airway. This simple action allowed her to breathe and regain consciousness. Rod sat with her and held her hand to reassure her. 

'The crash is a bit of a black space for me but just knowing Rod was there for me was great comfort,' said Nicole. 

At the launch of the ‘Anyone can save a life campaign’ today, Nicole expressed that she could not put into words how grateful she was to be alive. 

'Every year my family sends Rod a thank you card on the anniversary of the crash,' said Nicole. 

The 'Anyone can save a life' campaign is a joint initiative between St John WA and the Road Safety Commission. The Commission contributed $400,000 towards the campaign, which highlights how anyone can save a life if they understand a few simple first aid actions. 

'The ripple effect of road crashes goes far beyond the crash. When you save a life, you save many lives from a lifetime of suffering,' said St John WA Paramedic Matt Didcoe. 'The first few minutes before an ambulance can get to the scene makes all the difference.' 

According to St John Ambulance, 15 percent of WA road fatalities could be prevented by administering basic first aid. 

'Post-crash care is vital in reducing the impact of road crashes and is one of the five priority areas of the State Government Driving Change Road Safety Strategy 2020-2030,' said the Minister for Road Safety Hon. David Michael. 

'The key message here is that it doesn’t take much to save a life,' the Minister said. 

An advertisement based on Rod and Nicole’s experience premiered at the launch. 

'That is very powerful. If that doesn’t make a difference I don’t know what will,' said Nicole. 

'I hope it will serve as inspiration to other people to save lives,' said Rod. 

The campaign includes a free 15-minute online St John WA emergency first aid course targeted to young drivers aged between 17-20, who are six times more likely to be involved in a car crash.

The Minister encouraged everyone to complete the free online course. 

'I have completed the online training course and recommend it to all drivers. It takes about 15 minutes and if it means it saves a life, it is time well spent,’ the Minister said. 

The First Aid for Drivers course can be found on the First Aid for Me website. The campaign is scheduled to air 24 March.