MICK White was off-duty when he ran into a building fire in Bathurst last year, rescuing a mother and her young son from the blaze, which was rapidly escalating out of control.
The Bathurst-based police officer who works in Orange had just bought a coffee when he realised something was very wrong at a nearby Keppel Street Chinese restaurant. Wth little regard for his personal safety, he ran into the blaze to rescue the pair.
His efforts on the day have earned him a Regional Commander’s Bravery Award, which he will be presented with on June 6.
Sergeant White, who said he is surprised by the attention his actions on the day are receiving, is no stranger to putting his life on the line for others.
Eight years ago he ran into a burning building in an attempt to save the life of a man trapped in a house fire in Goulburn.
Sadly the man died in the fire, and Sergeant White was hospitalised suffering smoke inhalation.
But the attempt to save the man’s life, and in doing so risking his own, earned Sgt White a Commissioner’s Award for Valour.
After receiving the award, Sergeant White promised his wife, Kate, he wouldn’t do anything “silly” again, but when last year’s fire in Bathurst unfolded before him, he didn’t hesitate, and ran in to free those inside.
Sergeant White said he had just dropped his daughter off when he spotted smoke coming from the Chinese restaurant.
Smoke was already flooding out of the shop but the police officer, with 18 years experience, didn’t hesitate as he ran inside and found a woman in the kitchen with a young child in the kitchen.
“When I went in I didn’t know what to expect, I just saw smoke pouring out of the restaurant and the visibility inside was bad. I found the woman and young boy in the kitchen, I think she was trying to save things from the fire, but I yelled to get out.
After leaving the woman came back into the kitchen but he knew but there was no point trying to save anything.
”We had to get out,” he said.
“It was very difficult to breath and the smoke was getting really thick,” he said.
After making sure everyone was out Sergeant White turned his attention to evacuating the units above the restaurant.
There was a man on a balcony who kept yelling “son, son”.
The man didn’t speak any English, so Sergeant White assisted by another man searched the unit, but it was empty.
Reflecting on his actions that day, Sergeant White said he acted on instinct.
”It’s what police do.”