Heroes in our midst

Too often, the word hero gets thrown around lightly.

It has been applied to those who help, to those who succeed, to those who put in effort, and those whose generosity knows no bounds.

And while it can be argued such people are heroes in some way, or at the very least inspiring, there is no dispute whether two young men from Waycobah classify as heroes.

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On September 16, 2016, best friends Liam Bernard and Shane Bernard were travelling on Trans-Canada Highway 105 when they arrived at the scene of a motor vehicle accident that occurred moments before. One vehicle with two passengers was on fire. Liam, Shane, and other bystanders helped one of the passengers exit the vehicle but the driver was pinned inside the car with flames at his feet. Liam entered the burning vehicle to free the driver’s legs, while Shane held on to Liam’s belt to anchor him to the ground.

The trapped driver realized the danger the Bernards were in and insisted they stop trying to help him. However, Liam chose to ignore the request and continued to attempt to pull the driver out of the burning truck. While Shane held on to Liam’s belt, giving him more reach, Liam was finally able to free the driver. The driver, Liam, and Shane were pulled away from the vehicle by other individuals just as the truck became engulfed in flames.

The Bernards were honoured with Medals of Bravery at a ceremony held on November 8, at Province House in Halifax. The Medal of Bravery is awarded each year to people who have risked their life protecting the life or property of others.

Premier Stephen McNeil said such acts “remind us of the good in the world.”

And while the Bernards remain humble, their decision to risk life and limb to help people they didn’t know is astonishing. Making this case all the more courageous is that the Bernards could have given up when their lives were in jeopardy, and no one would have faulted them.

No one would have faulted them for not putting their lives on the line to begin with, given the dire circumstances for those in the vehicle and the very real possibility of death or injury for either of the Bernards.

To their credit, Liam and Shane looked beyond their own welfare and were guided by a genuine desire to help. In the end, they endangered their own lives to save the lives of others.

If that isn’t heroic, nothing is.