Essex: More than crimefighters
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When our officers pass out after their initial training, they pledge to protect and serve the people of Essex. And they do so throughout their careers.
This means helping people, keeping them safe and catching criminals. The work they do every day to investigate crime and bring people to justice is more widely known than their work to help you and keep you safe.
Our Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington commends officers and staff who put themselves in harm’s way to protect people and to save lives. A Chief Constable’s Commendation is one of the highest honours he can bestow.
With the recent relaxing of Coronavirus regulations, Mr Harrington has been able to recommence his recognitions of our officers and staff who have carried out acts of bravery, many of which have involved saving lives, often when off duty.
Recent commendations have included:
Dog handler PC Luke Pitchford, who prevented a man from bleeding to death at Basildon Hospital in September 2016.
Luke had not been a handler long when he was called for back-up to an incident where an agitated man was refusing all forms of medical treatment for a serious head injury and was at risk of bleeding to death. He became aggressive and spat a mouthful of blood into Luke’s face and eyes.
Despite being covered in blood, Luke didn’t give up and bravely tackled the man to the floor, safely detaining him and preventing colleagues from also becoming contaminated with the man’s blood. Luke’s actions enabled the man to be taken back into hospital for emergency care.
Afterwards, Luke received a series of treatments because he was exposed to the man’s blood.
Luke says: “The doctor told us the man would bleed to death if we didn’t manage to stop him leaving. Thankfully he survived. I know I put myself at risk to save him from significant harm but it was worth it to save his life.”
Dog handler PC Jim Beaird, who was off duty when he persuaded a man to step down from a bridge in Colchester and away from danger.
Jim was returning home from work in January last year when he spotted a distressed and vulnerable man standing on the wrong side of the bridge. Fearing for the man’s safety, Jim first reported the incident to our Force Control Room, requesting that all trains be stopped, and to the East of England Ambulance Service control room.
Jim then spoke to the man for more than an hour before offering him his hand and escorting him over the railings and away from danger. He then ensured the man received the medical help he needed.
Jim says: “I saw the man on a bridge and went to see what was wrong. He wouldn’t talk to begin with but I kept talking and built up a rapport. I felt compassion for the man as he was going through a hard time but when I tried to move closer, he moved away. I thought about the risk and tried to limit it.
“There was a lot of conversation and then it’s all a blur but I put my hand out and he reached out and grabbed it. It’s nice to be recognised and to know that you are valued for going that extra mile.”
PC Arabella Wood, who saved the life of a man while she was on a bus on her way to court in January last year.
Arabella, who works in our Force Control Room (FCR) at Headquarters in Chelmsford, noticed one of the passengers was unresponsive. She alerted the bus driver and asked him to call 999 and immediately started cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) until medical assistance arrived. Paramedics used a defibrillator and the man began breathing again and was taken to hospital.
Arabella says: “It’s not anything you expect to happen but you automatically go into responding mode. The man got on the bus and sat down but then his head went back. I saw that he was unconscious and he had no pulse so I spoke got the other passengers to help get him on the floor and started CPR. I’m glad I was in the right place at the time and was able to use my training.
“When the man started breathing it was amazing.”
Off-duty Basildon Special Constable Mark Lane, who stopped to help a driver involved in a collision. Mark, who also works in our FCR, as a communications officer, drove past a car which had crashed into a stationary lorry on the A127 in February 2020.
Mark turned his vehicle round as soon as he could do so safely and returned to the scene, where he found the car driver was trapped underneath the lorry with serious injuries.
Mark assisted a paramedic who arrived at the scene at the same time he did until more help arrived. Sadly, the man died in hospital the following day.
Mark says: “I was with my mum on my way home from friends when I noticed that a car had gone under the back of a lorry. We turned round and got back to the scene at the same time as a solo paramedic. The man was unconscious but breathing.
“My training as a Special helped. I took control of the scene as the paramedic had to get his kit ready.
“I and a couple of other people there tried to get the driver out of the car and then I helped the paramedic with first aid until more emergency services personnel arrived and took him to hospital.
“At least his family were able to say goodbye. I was glad I could help.”
Sergeant Paul Sheldrake, of Harlow Local Policing Team (LPT), and Sergeant Carlie Taverner, from Stansted Airport, who, again, were off duty when they noticed a man struggling to breathe.
While Paul immediately provided mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, Carlie located a nearby defibrillator and used it. The man was taken by air ambulance to hospital and survived.
Carlie says: “We were at a refuse centre when I just looked across and saw a man on the floor surrounded by a group of people.
“I went across and identified that he needed help. Paul did mouth-to-mouth and I used the centre’s defibrillator, then the air ambulance arrived and took him to hospital.
“It was quite emotional as his family were with him.”
Paul says: “You don’t think about it, you just do it but it’s nice to be recognised with a commendation.”
Sergeant Andrew Kirkby, of Loughton LPT, PC Jamie Haskoylu, of Brentwood LPT, and dog handler PC Darren Barnard, who stopped to help when they spotted a member of the public with a vulnerable man on a motorway bridge in May 2019.
Despite the obvious dangers of being in close proximity to fast roads, the officers stopped and, disregarding their own safety, used their physical strength and successfully got the man away from the edge of the bridge a place of safety.
The man would only talk to the member of the public so, while they continued talking, Jamie climbed over the bridge and on to the bank while Andy and Darren held on to him until an ambulance arrived to take him to hospital.
Andrew says: “It’s nice to be commended for just doing our jobs. I am glad we were there.”
The member of the public involved has also been commended for his initiative and brave actions while helping Andrew, Jamie and Darren.
PC Holly Davis and her parents Jeff and Jan, who stepped in after Holly spotted a vulnerable man attempting to harm himself while out walking her dogs in June 2019.
Holly recognised things were ‘not quite right’ when she saw the man near her parents’ home. Getting closer, she saw he was attempting to harm himself. Calling her parents and then emergency services, Holly spoke to the man, preventing him from causing himself further harm and, when support arrived, was able to fully safeguard and care for him.
Holly says: “I rang Mum and Dad first because they were closer. Then I called for an ambulance and put the phone on the ledge so they could hear what was happening. Mum and Dad arrived first and we talked to the man ad managed to get him down. Then we took him back to the house and all the emergency services arrived and he was taken to hospital.
“Afterwards, he said thank you.
“It was fate. I did so many things that day I wouldn’t do normally. I wouldn’t normally take the dogs out then, I wouldn’t take that route and I don’t usually take my phone. I truly think he wasn’t meant to go that day.”
Jeff and Jan Davis also received Chief Constable’s Commendations for their compassion, quick thinking and decisive action.
Mrs Davis says: “The man was cold and in shock so I gave him tea with lots of sugar. We’d already taken blankets over to him. If Holly hadn’t found him, it would have been a different story.
“Holly is a police officer so she’s never off duty and it was her instinct to help that man and not herself. Her training helped her to spot he was vulnerable.
Mr Davis says: “We’re very proud of Holly, not just because she saved him but because of her compassion. She’s very caring and made him feel life was worth living.”
Police community support officer Paul Farrant, who came across a vulnerable man attempting to take his own life in Chelmsford in December 2019 and went to stop him.
Despite Paul’s brave efforts, the man continued to pose a risk to himself and, potentially, to others. But, using physical strength Paul was able to prevent the man from causing himself any further harm.
Paul says: “He was obviously distressed so I followed him, calling for back-up and trying to reason with him.
“Thankfully he was smaller than me so when he started to get near the fence, I yanked him back. My shift then arrived and made sure he was safe.
“I’ve done it before and I’d do it again without hesitation. It’s my job.”
And PC Nicholas Hayter, who saved another man’s life, just a day after Paul did, this time in Colchester.
Nicholas responded to a call for concern and when he arrived, he found a vulnerable man on the wrong side of the railings on a bridge in Colchester.
He was able to prevent the man from causing himself any further deliberate harm. Unfortunately, whilst he was being brought to safety, the man lost his footing and was in grave danger of falling from a considerable height. But Nicholas successfully held him by his arm for a significant period of time until colleagues arrived to help him down from the bridge.
Nicholas says: “When I got there, I radioed for back-up and started to talk with him but then I had to grab him. Colleagues arrived in a couple of minutes but it felt like 10.
“Afterwards he thanked me and then his family arrived and took him away to get the help he needed.”
If these stories have inspired you and you share our values and want to help to protect and serve our communities, why not take a look at the careers we can offer you: www.essex.police.uk/fitthebill