Bravery award for Newstead local

Newstead's Dale Edwards has received a Royal Humane Society of Australasia bravery award for coming to the aid of a man whose hand was trapped in a commercial oven set at 230 degrees Celsius.

Newstead's Dale Edwards has received a Royal Humane Society of Australasia bravery award for coming to the aid of a man whose hand was trapped in a commercial oven set at 230 degrees Celsius.

Newstead's Dale Edwards was just going about his business, visiting a supermarket in Kangaroo Flat on the outskirts of Bendigo, when he heard a man screaming for help.

It was early on the morning of January 11 this year. Unbeknown to Mr Edwards, the man's hand had just become trapped in a commercial baking oven set at 230 degrees Celsius.

The young man had been wheeling a trolley, containing numerous trays of bread, into the searing hot oven for baking.

But as he pushed the trolley the trays began sliding forward and when he attempted to grab them his hand became trapped in the oven.

It was then that Mr Edwards, 31, heard the man's desperate cries for help coming from the bakery.

Without pausing to think twice the Newstead resident rushed towards the cries, put his own hand into the oven and began working furiously to free the trapped man's hand.

After a struggle that lasted an estimated five to 10 minutes Mr Edwards was successful and the man's hand was freed.

This Wednesday the actions that Mr Edwards took on that day were officially recognised as he became one of 20 people in Victoria presented with a Royal Humane Society of Australasia bravery award.

Mr Edwards received a Royal Humane Society Certificate of Merit from the Governor of Victoria, the Honourable Linda Dessau AC, at Government House in Melbourne.

Speaking to the Castlemaine Mail about his experience in January, Mr Edwards said it wasn't until after he'd freed the man's hand that he realised his own shoulder had been dislocated as a result of his efforts, and he'd also sustained burns to his own elbow, wrist and hand.

"Police said it was lucky I was around then and responded," reflected Mr Edwards, who works in stock replenishment.

"I was just walking into Coles and I heard him yelling. I thought they were mucking around or something. Then I saw his mate kicking the tray and I could hear him screaming and yelling for help so I dropped what I had and just bolted over there.

"I was trying to get the tray out of the oven. It was a bit time consuming but I was just trying as much as I could to keep the bloke conscious and breathing and I had people helping me out as well - sitting there trying to talk to him and keep him calm while I was working at getting the bread trays out of the oven.

"I just wasn't really thinking. I was just jumping in there. I had short sleeves on and I wasn't really conscious as to how hot it was until his hand was free and the coppers and ambos said 'did you know how hot it was?'

"It was over 200 degrees or more in that oven. I had about third degree burns on my elbow and wrist and my hand, and my left shoulder was dislocated. I didn't notice until later."

Since the incident Mr Edwards has been able to catch up with the man whose hand he freed from the oven.

"He lost four fingers. But last time I spoke to him he was doing very well. I saw him about a month ago. The specialist said if he was in there for another two minutes he would have lost all his arm. He's recovering really well so I'm happy about that."

The Newstead local said receiving the bravery award this week was a big surprise.

"I'm still shocked," he said.

As well as Mr Edward's actions, this week's annual bravery awards presentation recognised rescues from assault and armed assailants, car accidents, attempted suicides, rivers and lakes and a burning house.

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