'Hero' off-duty firemen who rescued family from burning car on A38 given Queen's bravery award

A pair of off-duty firefighters who rescued a family from a burning car on the A38 in Devon have been given a Queen's Commendation for Bravery.

Ed Durante and Craig Jones have been praised for their actions on 27 June 2021, after they saved the lives of five people, who could have died had they not intervened.

Ed Durante, a paramedic and watch manager with Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, was driving along the A38 near Chudleigh when he saw a car ahead lose control and collide with the barrier.

The car then became engulfed in flames.

  • Ed Durante speaking to ITV News West Country after the horror incident

He immediately ran to the burning car, which had five unconscious passengers in, and began pulling each of them out.

Craig Jones, from Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service was also travelling along the A38 when he spotted the incident and joined Ed Durante's rescue efforts.

He pulled out a six-year-old child from the middle rear seat of the car and performed urgent first aid.

Both of the firefighters then moved the casualties away from the vehicle, which was fully engulfed in flames by this point, and provided first aid until the ambulance arrived.

The fire was seen engulfed in flames on the A38. Credit: BPM Media / Devon Live

Some of the casualties' injuries were life-changing as a result of the crash, but could have been fatal had the two not intervened.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden praised the actions of everyone who received an award for their brave actions.

"We all hope we'd react with courage in the face of danger", he said.

"These people have lived through that test, and responded in the most admirable way.

"Their selfless actions have saved lives and I want to express profound thanks for their willingness to put themselves in danger to protect others."

Craig Jones and Ed Durante were not the only people who showed heroism at the scene. Sam and Katy Smith saw the crash, stopped their car and came to help. Katy dialled the emergency services and kept them up to date with the situation while Sam helped the firefighter release those inside.

Sam Smith said, "I ran over to the crashed car, it was on fire. I assisted the off-duty firefighter with getting people out of the car, there was five people in the car. All patients seemed injured and disorientated, the driver seemed uninjured...

"We managed to get them all out, I was sat on the outside lane with the boy patient supporting his head and putting him in the recovery position... As the fire got worse in the car we had to move the patients further away."

Katy said, "Luckily I have the What3Words app so I was able to give the exact location of the collision. After telling the location I went and saw four individuals inside, while the driver was out and walking about very confused by how it had happened, some of the individuals were unconscious and I relayed this information to the operator."

On being asked about his heroic efforts, Sam said simply, "I didn't hesitate, they needed help."

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