A Norfolk police chief has praised the "immense bravery” of officers who risked their own lives to save a woman from a burning house in Swaffham.
Assistant Chief Constable Sarah Hamlin said the actions of the five PCs, from Swaffham SNT and the Roads Policing and Firearms Operations Unit, were "commendable” and reflected the spirit of officers across the force to help save and protect life.
The incident happened on Friday (13 June) lunchtime when the fire service alerted police to a blaze at a house in Spinners Lane. Local beat manager PC Paula Gilluley and roads policing officer PC Chris Curtis were first on scene having run about 200 metres from the station, also on Spinners Lane.
The officers were met by the distraught carer outside the property who had raised the alarm with the fire service. The carer was able to give them the keycode to unlock the front door, and PC Curtis and Gilluley headed into the smoke-logged house along with PC George Healey who by this time had also arrived on scene.
The officers had to fetch torches to search in the thick smoke and intense heat, but were beaten back. They were joined by PCs Nathan Woodgate, George Healey and Jez Blamire who, despite repeated attempts to enter the front of the house, were foiled by the thick smoke.
– PC Chris Curtis
We were met by a wall of smoke and heat in the hallway, you couldn’t see at all. I felt the wall going down the side of the living room and felt the door which was hot, I paused briefly because we didn’t know what was waiting for us behind the door. I pushed the door open but while there wasn’t a massive amount of flames you could instantly feel the heat.”
PCs Woodgate and Blamire went to the back of the house and after breaking down the back door were able to enter the living room where they found the elderly woman slumped in her chair.
The woman, in her 70s, was rescued from the house and officers provided first aid in the front garden, giving oxygen and treating the woman’s burns on her lower legs.
Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service arrived on scene followed by the ambulance service and the woman was taken by air ambulance to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. She has since been transferred to a specialist unit where she continues to recover well.
– PC Woodgate
We did what we did as this is what we’re trained to do. If that was your nanny you would want someone to do the same. I see it that we are just doing our job.'
Armed response vehicles are equipped with medical packs and due their line of work, firearms officers are trained to a high level in First Aid by paramedics.
– Asst Chief Constable Sarah Hamlin
The action of these officers is highly commendable and their response was calm and professional in what would have been a very chaotic situation.
"I have no doubt the quick-thinking actions of Paula, Chris, Nathan, George and Jez helped save the woman’s life and without their efforts this could have been a very different story and I speak on behalf of the Constabulary in saying how proud we are of our colleagues.”