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A change of plans sees Highway Guardian emerge and lifelong friendship forged

28 July 2021
  • Lowes Transport’s Michael Thompson named a Bridgestone Bandag Highway Guardian
  • Change of circumstances leads to saving a life
  • Thompson praised for knowledge, skills and willingness to assist.
An outback road train driver has been recognised by the Australian Trucking Association as a Bridgestone Bandag Highway Guardian for saving a man’s life in a remote location in near 50-degree heat, launching the beginning of a life-long bond between the two. 
Michael Thompson was en route to a fuel delivery to the Cordillo Downs Station, near the Queensland/South Australia border, when he came to the rescue of a severely dehydrated Terrence Stewart from Sydney.
The circumstances contributing to Mr Thompson’s feat are made even more incredible with a decision to deliver the shipment of fuel a day early, and a last-minute route change because of weather, setting the course for his discovery of Mr Stewart.
The Lowes Petroleum driver first encountered the man’s car on the road into the station, with a note signalling his intention of walking the 30km to Cordillo. After following foot tracks for 13km, Mr Thompson discovered the man in a bad way off the road and promptly organised help by calling his wife on the satellite phone in order to facilitate assistance while he administered first aid. With help from those on the station, the man was transported by road to the station within an hour while the Royal Flying Doctor Service was dispatched and subsequently transferred to hospital for treatment.  
Mr Thompson’s intervention has been credited with saving Mr Stewart’s life, with Lowes Petroleum praising his knowledge to understand the danger of the situation and having the knowledge and skills to administer the required care, and applying initiative to dispatch the required emergency services.
Terrence Stewart says that the pair have an undeniable bond following that day and is full of gratitude towards his rescuer.
“Michael saved my life, so it is a massive thank you. He read my note left on the steering wheel, contacted Cordillo and advised them of the situation and drove towards Cordillo, he could not find me so he got out of his truck and started following my footprints till he found me,” Mr Stewart explained.
“He put everything together to give me what I am enjoying today and that is life. In my mind, he was determined to find me and do the best he could to save me and I greatly appreciate all the things he has done. It is not just finding me, but he put all the bit in place to make sure I survived. I would like to think he is a family friend for life.”
The Bridgestone Bandag Highway Guardian is one of the highest honours a member of the transport industry can receive, with the accolade highlighting truck drivers who have gone above and beyond when faced with adversity.
According to ATA Chair, David Smith, Michael Thompson’s story highlights the importance truck drivers play in remote Australia.
“Truck drivers operating in the outback and on remote routes are vital for stations to receive the goods and services they require to operate, but Michael Thompson highlights the critical role that our industry plays in looking out for others on the roads as well,” Mr Smith said.
“Terrence was subjected to some of Australia’s harshest conditions through no fault of his own, but had there not have been a fuel delivery scheduled that week, it could have been a very different outcome. We’re fortunate to have people like Michael Thompson with the instincts to identify that something’s not right and who can apply the initiative to facilitate the assistance needed at that moment,” he added. 
The Bridgestone Bandag Highway Guardian accolade is part of Bridgestone’s ongoing commitment to the Australian trucking industry, forming part of its support in the ‘people’ priority areas of its global Corporate Social Responsibility initiative, ‘Our Way to Serve’. Through this initiative, Bridgestone aims to enhance the way people live, move, work and play through three priority areas: people, mobility and environment. 
Bridgestone Australia & New Zealand Managing Director, Stephen Roche, joined David Smith in recognising Michael Thompson’s initiative. 
“Recognising drivers like Michael Thompson as Bridgestone Bandag Highway Guardians is important to us because it highlights the incredible contribution they make to the community,” Mr Roche said. 
“Michael Thompson was selfless in his actions and went out of his way to come to the rescue of Terrence. We’re pleased to give him the very fitting acknowledgement as a Highway Guardian – he has definitely lived up to the title.” 
The Bridgestone Bandag Highway Guardian accolade is evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the Australian Trucking Association. If you know a member of the industry fitting of the title, nominate them now