Bet you didn’t know the rear seat of a police cruiser can be used as a flotation device.
Constable Brandon Goudey, a Yarmouth native, remembered that fact from his depot training and used it to help save a man’s life in Peace River on Oct. 1, 2016, with his police partner, Const. Timothy Stevens.
On March 20, both officers received a Commendation for Bravery in Edmonton at K Division headquarters.
In total, 17 were recognized for their courage, including citizens and officers and one other RCMP officer with Yarmouth roots: Inspector Jeremie Landry (for an incident that occurred in 2014).
Goudey was patrolling downtown Peace River with Stevens and Const. Stephanie Gratton when they saw paramedics and the Peace River Fire Department (PRFD) driving with emergency lights flashing near the dyke that runs alongside the river.
The officers followed to provide help. As the police approached the River Front Park downtown, detachment dispatch notified them that Emergency Medical Services and PRFD were requesting assistance with a man in distress in the river.
In hopes of sighting the man, Goudey and Gratton followed the PRFD rapid response truck to a boat launch on Peace River.
Walkers on a nearby trail directed the officers downriver.
Goudey drove the police truck along the dyke about 200 yards before he got out of the vehicle and took off his duty belt and vest in case he needed to get into the water.
People said they had spotted the man about 400 yards from a crossing, so Goudey began running north towards the Peace River Bridge. He met Stevens, who was running towards him, and told him to grab the backseat out of his police vehicle to use as a flotation device if they needed to enter the water.
Continuing along the dyke, Goudey spotted the man, who was yelling for help. Only his head and waving arms were visible.
Goudey knew he needed to get downstream in order to have a chance at swimming out to the man.
When he reached a spot that he felt gave him enough distance, he fought his way through the underbrush towards the riverbank.
The man was continuing his struggle to keep his head above water, almost parallel to where Goudey was on shore.
He and Stevens removed their uniforms and entered the frigid water carrying the backseat. They splashed their way downstream in order to get ahead of the struggling man. The air temperature was 2 Celsius.
Once they reached the Peace River Bridge, they met up with a PRFD first responder who was in radio contact with the others as they launched their boat into the water.
The current carried the man in distress closer to the officers, but he was still out of reach and beginning to sink. The rescuers waded out until they could no longer touch bottom. They were still 30 feet from their target.
"We decided that we could swim to him with the backseat and provide him with something to keep him above water," said Goudey.
Once they reached him, he desperately grabbed hold of the seat and was pulled to shore. The three were met by firefighters who provided warm blankets and support before helping the man up the dyke through the bushes to the ambulance. The man was treated for his injuries at the Peace River Hospital.
Goudey says he was very pleased to be honoured and receive the award with his partner, Stevens.
More about Constable Brandon Goudey
Goudey joined the RCMP in 2013.
His first posting was to Peace River, Alberta.
In August 2017 he was posted to Cambridge Bay, Nunavut.
He is the son of Kelly and Curt Goudey from Yarmouth.