Sa, 2.12.2023

Action awarded for souls saved

Liis Velsker
, reporter
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Yesterday, 21 people were decorated with Lifesaver Medals by interior minister Hanno Pevkur and Rescue Board director-general Kuno Tammearu. Those honoured included 13 Rescue Board staff, one beach guard, and six private persons including an Australian.  

17 people were decorated with Lifesaver Medal of 3rd class, and three with the medal of 2nd class. A rescuer at City Centre commando Andrei Biba, as awarded the medal for fifth time, was awarded with Rescue Board Medal for long term service of excellence.

Among others, 3rd class medal went to physical education teachers dwelling in Otepää, brothers Priit (27) and Raul Lehismets (25), who saved a man from drowning last summer.

On August 10th at about 12 at noon, Jaak (56) decided to go swimming in Lake Pühajärv. Having waded into the water for 20 metres he lost footing, breathed water into his lungs and panicked.  

That day, Priit Lehismets was on duty as beach guard. Alerted to a struggle in the water by a colleague, they ran up to see about the swimmer.  

«He was already unconscious, and we brought the lifeless body to the shore,» recalls Priit Lehismets.

His brother Raul Lehismets, a lifeguard for four-five years, with younger brother Siim just happened to be jogging around the lake to see Priit. At the sight of the accident, the younger brother ran to the beach to ask for a telephone and proceeded to call the ambulance. Raul Lehismets joined the beach guards.

Together, the two brothers begun resuscitating the man – Priit applied artificial breathing and Raul massaged the heart. «Didn’t think at all, it was fast and automatic,» says Raul Lehismets.

Initially it felt like it wasn’t working. «There came a moment when we thought how long will we be doing this, will anything ever,» says Priit Lehismets. «But we hesitated not and kept doing what we remembered to do. This time, lucky.» The water came out of the lungs. And the man regained consciousness.

Mihkel Luht and Paula Saaremäe, a young unmarried couple from Elva, Tartu County, saved the life of a lad next door dying from carbon monoxide – to earn 3rd class medal and a thank-you letter with a memento.

Hearing a smoke detector go off in neighbouring apartment at 10 pm on December 21st, a Linda Line sailor Ms Saaremäe took action. Fetching a ladder, she climbed to the second floor window. «Thru the window I saw the apartment filled with smoke and somebody on the sofa,» she says.

While Ms Saaremäe called the Rescue Board, Mr Luht broke down the locked door and dragged the intoxicated victim out. Beginning to resuscitate the victim, the latter came to just as rescuers and ambulance pulled up.

Lifesaver Medals were also awarded to rescuers Sergey Shcherbakov, Dmitri Maksimkin, Pjotr Karu, Aimur Rebane, Anti Arikainen, Einar Viital, Imre Soilts, Janno Kiik, Dmitri Bažura, Garry Kruusma, Hanno Grünthal, Ergo Saarestik, Andrei Drobotun, as well as private persons  Viktor Juhkam, Larissa Koba, Annika Altmäe and Steven Dunning.

Four private persons were awarded with Rescue Board director-general’s letter of appreciation for saving lives. All in all, 86 people were recognised by Rescue Board.