How A Firefighter On Vacation Became An Over Night Hero


An Adventurous Vacation

For most people, vacation is a time for rest and relaxation. It’s a time to get away from the stress of the world and just relax for a while. Perhaps it can also be a time for exploration and adventure. However, for one man who was on vacation, it would end up being much more of an adventure than he had ever bargained for.

Willing To Help

John Conway was your typical man from the city of Birmingham in the UK. In the county of West Midlands, he was known by his friends as a selfless individual who would always help someone in need. Of course, we never know how far we’ll go to help another person unless the right opportunity arises…

Bravery Is In The Job Description

One other important thing to note about John Conway is that he’s a firefighter by trade. As most people know, firefighters have to be ready and willing to put themselves in danger to help others when the situation calls for it. Sometimes they have routine duties to handle, but there’s always the chance of having to rush into a fire to save someone, too.

An Unexpected Surprise

Little did John know that during this year’s vacation, he would actually have to use many of the skills that he has acquired during his firefighting career in a very unexpected situation. The story would end up being not only a cautionary tale to travelers but a reminder that anyone may have to be ready to be a hero at a moment’s notice.

Vacationing In Bali

For his vacation, John Conway had chosen the Indonesian island of Bali. The area is known for its thriving Hindu population and many wonderful sites and cultural experiences. As he left for his trip, John was doubtlessly looking forward to checking out the many artistic highlights of the city and perhaps do a little diving in the coral ridges.

Traveling To Mount Batur

One thing that John decided to do during his vacation was to take a trip to Mount Batur. This is an adventurous choice in many ways, as Mount Batur is actually an active volcano found in the middle of a pair of calderas near Mount Agung. The volcano most recently erupted only a couple of decades ago in the year 2000.

Adventurous Traveler

As a firefighter, John Conway certainly has an adventurous side. So he was certainly excited on that day of his trip as he prepared to take a picturesque trek at Mount Batur during the day’s sunrise. Little did he know that he would be called to rescue a woman from a crater of the active volcano later that day.

A Terrible Accident

While on his trek, John Conway heard a commotion. It was then that he heard that a woman who had visited Mount Batur had fallen from a viewing platform, ultimately tumbling over 130 feet before coming to a rest inside a crater of the active volcano. Conway knew right away that he had to do something about the situation.

Do Or Die Situation

As a firefighter, Conway was not only brave enough to act but also had the emergency medical training necessary to assist the fallen tourist. However, he still would have to get to where she was, which meant carefully traversing his way down to the bottom of the crater in order to even reach the injured party. He started to make his way down without hesitation.

Getting To Her Quickly

As he made his way down the uneven, often tricky terrain, Conway was not worried about himself, but instead focused on getting down safely, yet quickly. He knew that every second was critical when someone has sustained serious injuries. When he reached her, “she was clearly in a very bad way,” he said. “She was bleeding a lot and turning blue.”

Stopping The Bleeding

Conway did not have a first aid pack with him and instead only had a few essentials. However, he knew that he had to make do with the supplies that he did have. He used a combination of wet wipes, tissues, and tape to try to slow down and ideally, stop the woman’s bleeding. He spent 30 minutes doing so, knowing heavy blood loss could ultimately lead to her death.

In Over His Head

It was definitely quite a precarious situation and one that Conway never thought when he set out for his trip. He planned to do some backpacking to celebrate his 33rd birthday and there he was, at the bottom of a crater in an active volcano, administering first aid without actual supplies. He tried to keep her focused by talking to her and occasionally pinching her to keep her awake.

Help Arrives

Thirty minutes is a long time to try to stem bleeding and administer first aid without proper supplies and help. However, as the thirty-minute mark arrived, Conway and the injured woman had a stroke of good luck. He was joined by a woman who was prepared to help. Named Dorina Agache, she was a nurse from Dublin. “That was a massive relief,” he later said.

Find A Way Out

The relief from nurse Dorina Agache’s arrival wouldn’t last very long, though, as the reality of the situation was still quite dire. They had a seriously injured woman in their care, but they were at the bottom of a crater that would require an arduous climb to get out. How were they going to get the injured tourist to a hospital?

Necessary Equipment

Fortunately for John Conway and Dorina Agache, a stretcher arrived and was brought down to the bottom of the crater where the duo were still administering emergency medical assistance to the fallen woman. This stretcher would have to be used to keep the woman safe and stable as they hopefully transported her to help.

Mental Toughness

By this time, many fellow travelers had made their way down to the woman and her two helpers, but it would still be difficult to get her out of the crater. The first thing that had to happen was for them to help her stay warm. Travelers offered clothes to keep her warm. “She was obviously in severe pain and the nurse and I were worried she might have spinal injuries, but she never once complained,” Conway said.

A Human Chain

Difficult situations often foster ingenuity, and that was the case at the bottom of the crater that day. It was determined that it would be hard for two or even three people to walk her up to the top of the crater through the steep terrain. Instead, they formed a human chain and carefully passed her along to the top.

Escaping The Volcano

Sometimes, however, one problem is quickly replaced with another. That was the case on this particular day, as once they took an entire hour to get her to the top of the crater, they now faced a five-hour trek to the bottom of the volcano where they could transport her by vehicle to the nearest hospital. It would be perhaps the hardest task yet.

Staying Focused

John Conway and Dorina Agache stayed with her the whole time, even as other people occasionally volunteered to help carry her down to give others a rest. “We both bounced off each other, making sure she stayed conscious and her condition didn’t worsen for the next six to seven hours,” John said. The pair paused every ten minutes so that they could make sure she stayed conscious.

Long Road Ahead

The walk down to the bottom of the volcano wasn’t as treacherous as the one out of the bottom of the crater, but it was long and arduous, nonetheless. By the time they reached the bottom, John Conway had spent over six hours carrying for the woman and helping carry her down the 5,600-foot volcano. Still, the nearest hospital was two hours away.

A Nightmare Journey

The trip to the hospital in a tiny ambulance was “a nightmare journey,” John Conway said. “What little oxygen there was ran out half way, and we had to stop for fuel.” John and Dorina Agache stayed with her the whole time, nonetheless. Once she arrived, it was determined that she had a fractured spine, fractured ribs, and a serious head injury.

A Long Day’s Work

After an ordeal that lasted more than 8 ½ hours, John Conway finally got a chance to take a deep breath now that the woman was in the hospital’s care. He started to realize just how lucky the injured woman had been to live through the ordeal. “Given the state in which we found her, and the extent of her injuries, it’s a miracle she survived,” he said.

Thanks For The Help

Clearly, even though the injured tourist was quite lucky to survive, she had quite a recovery left to do. After all, a fractured spine is a very serious injury. But even with the pain she had to be dealing with and the prospect of the long recovery, John Conway said that she managed to pass along a message of thanks to him and Dorina Agache for their help that day.

Still In Shock

In the time since the challenging day when John Conway and Dorina Agache saved the injured woman’s life, John has had a lot of time to think about everything that happened. Even though the shock of the moment has subsided, he still has a hard time believing everything that took place. “Even now, I’m still going through the events as it was all unreal,” Conway said afterward.

A Real Hero

Conway proved himself to be a true hero that day with his unselfishness, instincts, and bravery, but at least one person wasn’t surprised: his watch commander at the fire department, Chris Gauntlett. “I’m not at all surprised to hear that he did everything he could to help this young woman,” Gauntlett said after the incident, adding that he was excited to welcome Conway back to the station.