Award for heroic actions

WORTHY: Ashburton Cadet Unit cadet Sebastian van Rooyen (left) is awarded the Commandant's Commendation by Commandant of New Zealand Cadet Forces (NZCF) Wing Commander Bruce Creedy.
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Four years of being a member of the Ashburton Cadet Unit has taught cadet sergeant Sebastian van Rooyen many skills.

The 17-year-old has been recognised for putting some of those skills to good use during two emergency incidents which happened last year.

The first was helping a cyclist with a suspected broken arm, the second was helping a fellow student at Ashburton College whose clothes were on fire.

‘‘I just did what needed to be done, it’s no big deal,’’ Sebastian said.

Ashburton Cadet Unit cadet Sebastian van Rooyen (left) about to receive the Commandant’s Commendation by Commandant of New Zealand Cadet Forces (NZCF) Wing Commander Bruce Creedy.

Last week the new Commandant of New Zealand Cadet Forces (NZCF) Wing Commander Bruce Creedy came to Ashburton to present Sebastian with the NZCF Commandant’s Commendation medal and certificate, the first to be awarded to a member of the Ashburton unit.

‘‘You never know when, what you learn at cadets will come in handy,’’ Sebastian said.

The first incident was on August 12.

Sebastian was biking home from a unit first aid training when he witnessed a young boy fall off his bike.

He looked at the boy’s arm and thought it was broken.

He supported the arm, rang for an ambulance and reassured the boy and kept him calm until the ambulance arrived.

The second incident was on September 1.

Sebastian was among students in a senior automotive class at Ashburton College when a fellow student in the welding bay had his school shirt catch fire from sparks from an angle grinder.

‘‘I couldn’t see some of the other students as there was a car blocking my view. I heard one of the students, yelling as he ran out of the room on fire.’’

The student was trying to pat the flames out as he ran outside, while other students yelled for the teacher.

‘‘I chased after him. He was still on fire when I got to him.’’

Sebastian used a nearby hose to put the flames out and the teacher arrived to take over the scene.

‘‘I just sprayed him with water for about 10 minutes until the ambulance got there, as I wanted to cool the burning down,’’ Sebastian said.

The student suffered severe burns and had an extended stay in hospital.

The student had since expressed his gratitude to Sebastian.

‘‘The knowledge gained at cadets is worth having,’’ Sebastian said.

In presenting the award, Creedy said Sebastian’s actions demonstrated the value of the practical training undertaken at cadets. Sebastian’s actions at the two incidents showed he remained calm throughout.

Creedy’s words were echoed by the teacher of the Ashburton College senior automotive class.

‘‘Ashburton College are very proud of the way Seb handled himself in a stressful situation. Seb keeps saying it wasn’t a big deal, but we know it was,’’ he said.