Courageous Paul awarded with gold medal  from German government
Paul on the German Artania Cruise Ship

Courageous Paul awarded with gold medal from German government

A TALLAGHT man has been presented with a gold medal by the German Government for his heroic work in saving the lives of people diagnosed with Covid-19 on a Cruise Ship that was docked in Perth last year.

Paul Taylor-Byrne, originally from Old Bawn, is the director of nursing in Joondalup Health Campus in Perth, where he has been living for over twenty years.

He was recently awarded a solid gold medal of honour for his courageous work and decision to help dozens of people, many of whom were Germans, who had contracted Covid-19 on the MS Artania Cruise Ship in March 2020, when other hospitals refused to do so.

“The cruise ship was pretty much stranded off the coast of Western Australia, and it had several hundred passengers from Germany on it and there were 35 patients that were ill with Covid-19, ranging from mildly ill to critically ill,” Paul told The Echo.

“They were stuck out in the waters until our Health Minister decided that they needed a hospital to actually take them in and we put up our hand and said that we are able, we have the facilities and we will take in the patients.

“No other hospital were willing to take them in. We said we are not willing to see these passengers suffer, even though they weren’t citizens of our country we knew we had to help them.”

Paul on the captain’s seat

Speaking about the agreement to take in the patients at a time when Covid-19 infections were sweeping across the World at a rapid pace, Paul said it was a “tough decision”.

“We knew that we had to be ready to deal with any Covid that came across our doors,” he explained.

“We knew as well that it was a humanitarian decision, and we were not going to see people that were potentially going to die, we weren’t prepared for that if we had the facilities and the ability to save them.”

On September 28, a German warship docked in Freemantle on the way to Japan and Paul was invited onto the ship to be presented with a solid gold medal of honour from the German Government to say thank you for taking the patients and treating them. On the medal there is two flags – a German flag and an Australian Flag.

“It was very humbling actually,” said Paul, speaking about being awarded the medal.

“To see the gratitude from the German Government and the people that were treated, knowing that they were able to go back home and to see their families again and to be reunited and that we were able to play a part in that – it was very humbling.”

Speaking to The Echo, Paul’s mother Hillary expressed her pride for her son and the incredible act of bravery that he carried out.

“I am very proud of him. He got the medal for saving all those people when others wouldn’t.

“He says that it was a team effort and he just happened to be head of the team and make the decision but there was a team involved in looking after all the people and saving them.”

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