Brave Tori receives service’s highest honour

Source: Central Western Daily

A QUEST through the wilderness in the middle of the night to save her dad’s life has earned eight-year-old Tori O’Neil the highest honour from the Ambulance Service of NSW.

The little girl wandered through the bush in Mookerawa State Park, in central-west NSW,for more than a kilometre, armed with only a torch, to find help for her dad who was suffering a severe asthma attack.

She knocked on several caravans but found no one home. Determined to save her dad she pushed on until she came to the camp site of Shayne and Mark Honeysett.

“My dad is sick can you help him?” she asked the couple.

When Tori stumbled on the campsite she could not have been luckier as Shayne was a nurse.

Tori’s father Gary O’Neil said he could not be more proud of his little girl. He said she was as “calm as a cucumber” throughout the ordeal.

“I was hunched over on my hands and knees and she patted me on the back and said ‘Dad, just breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, I’ll be back soon’,” he said.

Tori is the youngest person in the state’s western region to receive the Ambulance Service of NSW Commendation for Courage.

The medal is only awarded to people who placed themselves at great risk of injury and displayed courage of a high order.

Ambulance Service of NSW Inspector Rhys Dive said the award was usually presented to paramedics who showed great bravery to save a life.

“It’s a really big deal,” he said.

Tori was all smiles when she was surprised with the award at Orange East Public School on Friday. The magnitude of the award was perhaps not fully realised by the little girl.

“I just didn’t want my Dad to die,” she said.

Mr O’Neil said he still could not believe how brave his child had been. He said he had beenpetrified for her as she walked through the darkness. She was gone for over an hour.

Tori said she was scared but determined.

“I was walking through the bush and I heard noises and I was scared but I kept going,” she said.

Nobody knows how Tori did not get lost on her way back back to the campsite. She said she guessed the way home.

After watching Shayne Honeysett help her father, Tori decided she wanted to be a nurse when she grew up.

Ambulance Service of NSW’s Brad Porter presents Tori O’Neil with the Ambulance Service of NSW Commendation for Courage while her brother Cody and father Gary stand by for support. Photo: JUDE KEOGH


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