Ballarat doctor gets NZ quake bravery award

Steve Lillebuen and Nicole Mathewson June 22, 2014
Lydia Johns Putra will receive a bravery award after using a hacksaw and pocket knife to amputate the legs of a man who was trapped after the Christchurch earthquake in 2011.
High honours: Dr Lydia Johns-Putra. Photo: Adam Trafford

Dr Lydia Johns-Putra looked at the trapped and bleeding man. The earthquake had brought down a building on top of him. Unless she did something quickly, he was going to die.

The 56-year-old man had his legs pinned beneath a concrete pillar and a collapsed section of a floor. It was late February 2011 and the 6.3 magnitude quake had destroyed large sections of Christchurch, killing 185 people in New Zealand’s third-largest city.

‘‘There were still ongoing aftershocks,’’ the Ballarat-based urologist recalls. ‘‘Leaving him any longer would have had its own danger of more injury to him.’’

A decision was made. Dr Johns-Putra grabbed the only tools she could find – a hacksaw, a pocket knife – and began cutting off the man’s legs, just above the knees.

In 15 minutes, he was finally pulled free.

Three years later, Dr Johns-Putra has been recognised with one of New Zealand’s highest honours…

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