Dan Thibeault doesn’t consider himself a hero – just a person inclined to help others.
And three years ago, when he pulled his neighbour from his burning home that was fully engulfed in flames, that’s exactly what Thibeault says he was doing – just helping a neighbour.
On May 1, Thibeault – who has been at Carleton full time since 1999 – was among a group of 37 Canadians to receive the Governor General’s Medal of Bravery – something that he’s proud of but keeps to himself.
In fact, it’s among a series of honours he’s received since the fire.
“There were 36 people that I met (other award winners). You get to hear all their stories. They’re from all over Canada,” Thibeault recently told Carleton Now.
“You hear their stories and then you know my story, you feel that they’ve done something more dangerous. Like when you hear a person being eaten by a bear, saving somebody, you think, ‘Oh, and he survived that, he should receive a medal, right?’”
In addition to the man who saved a girl from being eaten by the bear, he also met four police officers who were involved in a prolonged shoot-out, putting their lives on the line.
“All I did was I went in a house and pulled out a person. It doesn’t seem as dangerous but I still received the exact same medal they’ve received,” says Thibeault, who works in Facilities Management and Planning.
His wife, Carleton employee Donna Ryan, her mother and their daughter were on hand for the occasion, a lunch at Rideau Hall and the opportunity to mix and mingle with the other recipients, as well as Governor General David Johnston.
“I am very proud of Dan for receiving the Medal of Bravery. He didn’t think twice on his actions that morning for rescuing our neighbor,” says Ryan.
“Yes, I think Dan is a hero. Not too many people would put their own life in that type of danger. He did what needed to be done without thinking of what could happen to himself.”
The Medal of Bravery is the last of several honours Thibeault has received for his swift action, which saved his neighbour’s life (the man has since died but his death was unrelated to the fire).
In addition to the Medal of Bravery, Thibeault received a Carnegie Medal, which is awarded by the Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Hero Fund Commission and is “awarded to civilians (in the U.S. and Canada) who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree saving or attempting to save the lives of others.”
He was given a special certificate from the House of Commons and Carleton University also honoured him.
Despite all of these honours, Thibeault says he doesn’t really talk about them and will only confirm the details if asked.
Thibeault admits he’d think twice before going into a burning building again, but he says he hopes if he needed help, that someone would answer the call.
“I would always help people if they needed help. It’s something you just do if you feel you can do something.”