Nfld. & Labrador

Quick thinking, traditional knowledge wins Labrador rescuer Bravery Award

Jim Andersen, who was given a Bravery Award from Gov. Gen. David Johnston last week, helped save two snowmobilers who fell through the ice near Nain Bay in May 2015.

Jim Andersen rescued 2 people from the icy waters near Nain Bay in 2015

James Andersen receives Medal of Bravery

5 years ago
0:58
James Andersen received a Medal of Bravery from the Governor General for his actions in helping to save two people whose snowmobile had fallen through the ice near Nain Bay in May 2015. 0:58

It was traditional knowledge and quick thinking — not bravery — that saved two people from Labrador's icy waters in 2015, according to their rescuer.

Jim Andersen, who was given a Bravery Award from Gov. Gen. David Johnston last week, helped save two snowmobilers who fell through the ice near Nain Bay in May 2015.

After a day fishing, Andersen says he was riding behind a man and a woman when he saw their vehicle break through the ice on a river. He was able to grab them out of the water and build a fire nearby to warm them up.

It's just traditional knowledge, I guess. Like reading the ice, and so on.- Jim Andersen

But despite the recognition, and the meeting with Johnston, Andersen said he doesn't feel particularly brave.

"I would say anybody that's seen somebody falling would try to help them," told the CBC's Labrador Morning.

Traditional thinking

On the day of the accident, Andersen knew the ice was thin, so he decided to leave his snowmobile and use a qamutik sled to get close to the two victims.

After venturing out onto the ice, Andersen says he was able reach a woman by hand, and his attempts to throw a rope to the other man were now successful.

Jim Andersen received a Medal of Bravery from Gov. Gen. David Johnston in Ottawa on Friday. (CBC)

Afterwards, he went to build a fire nearby for the two, who "were pretty close to hypothermic." 

"In the spring-time, the water is really cold and they were in the water for about, I'd say, 20 minutes," he said.

Andersen says he's never rescued anyone from the waters before, but he could figure out what to do.

"It's just traditional knowledge, I guess. Like reading the ice, and so on."

Big city recognition

Andersen said he wasn't surprised to receive a bravery award, as the RCMP told him there was a chance he would be honoured.

His trip to Ottawa was his first time out of the province, and he says it was a bit of an adjustment.

"I found it a little bit hectic, because I'm not used to the big cities," he said.

 "Go, go, go," he laughed.

With files from Labrador Morning

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