They may not be specialist first responders, but teenager Kayla Cussen and her border collie have proven they make one heck of duo when it comes to rescuing others in need.
Recently Kayla, 13, and her puppy – who is fittingly named Spot – came to the rescue of a plumber who accidentally found himself hanging upside down in a septic tank on Kayla’s property, in Sydney’s Terrey Hills.
Spot was the first to hear the panicked man calling for help. From the balcony of the family home that was near to the tank, Spot paced back and forth while barking relentlessly to draw the attention of anybody who would listen.
The first one to hear the barking was Kayla. She then joined Spot in running down to the tank before calmly ringing Triple Zero (000) and sticking by the man’s side until emergency services crews arrived.
“Calling Triple Zero was the first thing that came to my mind,” Kayla said.
“I just did what I thought was the right thing to do. I stayed with him most of the time and just tried to keep him calm, while the NSW Ambulance people told me what to do over the phone.
“I usually don’t overreact much with anything really, but my mum was there too and she was freaking out a bit.”
As for her much-loved pooch, Kayla wasn’t surprised that he too showed maturity beyond his age (Spot turns one next month).
“I’ve been the only one who trains him, so he’s really close to me,” Kayla said.
“He always knows when something’s wrong and howls when I have an accident in the back yard.”
The actions of Kayla and her dog have been praised by Acting Inspector Charnan Kurth, of Balgowlah Station, who later joined other paramedics and emergency services workers in rescuing the trapped tradesman.
“She showed a lot of maturity,” Charnan said.
“Through the notes that were coming down we could see she knew what she was talking about and she provided good details.
“If Kayla and Spot were not there and Kayla didn’t act as quickly she did, it might not have been a good outcome.”
Charnan said the rescue was a great all-around effort that also highlighted interagency teamwork. She said NSW Ambulance’s Special Operations Team (SOT) played a particularly big role in retrieving the man.
As for Spot – whose name has now taken on greater meaning, particularly because the original reason for his name was down to a since faded spot on his head – he was rewarded for his heroics in a way any dog would expect to be rewarded.
“He got many treats,” Kayla said. “He got a big dinner – and part of my dinner too.”