M11: Chief Constable’s Commendation
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Ashley Stowell has been commended by Essex Police Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington for his bravery, quick thinking and decisive actions at the scene of a collision on the M11 which undoubtedly saved a man’s life.
With the recent easing of Coronavirus regulations, Mr Harrington has been able to recommence his recognition of not only our officers and staff but members of the public who help us to keep people safe.
A Chief Constable’s Commendation is one of the highest honours Mr Harrington can bestow.
Diverted off the A1 and onto the M11, Mr Stowell was first at the scene of the collision on 13 February 2019, where he found a van trapped between two lorries, with the driver stuck inside. Fuel was leaking from the vehicle.
Although he is an advanced paramedic practitioner, Mr Stowell was returning home after a 12-hour shift at Peterborough Urgent Treatment Centre and only had his personal medical kit and a small fire extinguisher with him.
With disregard for his own personal safety, Mr Stowell tackled the fire and provided essential emergency first aid to the van driver, who had life-threatening injuries.
Due to a separate serious collision on the M11, emergency services were unable to reach the scene for approximately 40 minutes. During this time, Mr Stowell maintained the injured driver’s airway and his blood pressure. When fire and ambulance crews were able to attend, the man was freed and taken to hospital. He survived the collision.
“I have been on first on scene with the Ambulance Service many times but there is normally support and you have your ambulance with all the equipment.
“I had only my own medical case and oxygen that I carry in my car anyway, which was a great asset.
“The van was trapped between two lorries, so of course there was fuel everywhere. My concern was not only for the casualty inside the van but also the vehicles which were still trying to squeeze past in the outside lane.
“It was about 9.30pm, it was dark, there was fuel on the ground. I got to the man and saw he was trapped and barely breathing and had assessed there was no-one else inside, then the van sparked and caught fire.
“When I put the fire out, I was able to concentrate on him, knowing he was the only casualty. I tried to get oxygen and fluids into him to stablise him.
“Eventually, fire crews from Stansted arrived, followed by Essex roads policing officers and the ambulance service. When the fire officer came over and put his arm round my shoulder and said ‘We’re here, mate’, that was the nicest feeling I’ve had in 35 years of working closely with the emergency services. That 40 minutes felt like an eternity.
“It was lovely to be recognised, a lovely gesture. I feel really proud.”
“It was exceptional for Mr Stowell not only to provide the man with vital medical attention but also to put out a fire which could have engulfed the vehicles involved in the collision.
“We say the police are the public and the public are the police – it is one of our founding principles. The police are citizens in uniform and that is the link as we police our communities and help to keep them safe.”
Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington
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