CLOUDS over Wiltshire Fire and Rescue headquarters could not dampen the excitement of those gathered to celebrate the achievements of local heroes.
Families and friends from all over the county met at the most prestigious awards-giving ceremony in the service’s calendar, where the Queen’s Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire, Sarah Troughton presented six firefighters with special medals.
Tuesday’s ceremony opened with a triumphant performance from the Wiltshire Youth Marching Band who concluded their set with the national anthem.
The medals were awarded by Royal Warrant on behalf of HM the Queen for exemplary fire service after each recipient was personally recommended by the Chief Fire Officer following more than 20 years in service.
Jim Burgess, a firefighter from Swindon fire station, was just one of the firefighters to receive the award.
The 48-year-old said: “When I joined the fire service it was because I wanted a job for life and I knew I wanted to be receiving this award one day.
“It’s such an honour to be recognised like this.”
Watch manager Tim Elliott, from Westlea fire station, and Crew Manager Andy Ody, from Royal Wootton Bassett fire station, were also presented with the special medal.
Chief Fire Officer Simon Routh-Jones said: “This is an important event in the Service’s annual calendar, as it recognises the dedication and hard work of our staff, but it also gives us the opportunity to thank others who help us to support the people of Wiltshire and Swindon.”
During the ceremony presentations were also made of the Chief Fire Officer's Commendations and Certificates of Appreciation as well as a number of Excellence Awards and two new Heart of the Community Awards.
These included partner of the Year award to the Families First team with Swindon Council and Employer of the Year award to Helibeds.
Following the presentations winners and guests celebrated their achievement with a buffet.
Ian helped heart attack patient
FAST-THINKING Ian Teasdale was just one of the firefighters to receive a Chief Fire Officer’s Commendation at the awards ceremony.
The 34-year who works at Swindon Fire Station helped save a man’s life after he had a heart attack while he was off-duty last summer.
He said: “I was in Melksham one afternoon visiting a friend when I saw a man run out of a new estate that was bring built.
“He looked really frantic and he was trying to wave down an ambulance, and he said someone had had a heart attack.
“I asked who and he said it was someone in a house on the estate so I ran to the house and upstairs.
“There were a couple of people there I think trying to help out so I took it from there.
“I started doing CPR and some primary survey checks.”
A first responder from the ambulance service arrived shortly after, and more paramedicas after that, and Ian stayed to help where he could by assisting with administering oxygen and the defibrillator.
The man was then taken on to hospital where he had a heart bypass.
He then went on to make a full recovery.
Ian said: “I was just doing what anyone would do. He needed help so I went to help.
“It’s great to get recognition for what I did but it’s not really something I thought about. I just did it.”
Human chain saved a life
A FIRE crew which saved a man bent on taking his life earlier this year were also awarded a Chief Fire Officer’s Commendation.
Watch manager Greg Izon, crew manager Bob Waller, firefighter Steve Bell and firefighter Andy Smith from Swindon fire station all worked as a team to prevent a potential suicide with the help of control firefighter Tracey Chappell.
Tracey, who like all firefighters is not trained specifically to deal with cases of potential suicide, took a call at around 1am on January 24 from a man threatening to throw himself off the bridge over the M4 at Wroughton.
While she mobilised a crew to attend the scene, she kept the caller on the line and tried to encourage him to move to a safe place.
She said: “I was just trying to keep him on the phone.
“Even when he put the phone down I still tried to call out to him.
“And then Greg picked up the phone and said they had got him.”
While Tracey held the line, Greg and the crew had approached the bridge.
Greg said: “I took the decision not to use the lights and sirens because we didn’t want him to know that we were coming because if he knew we were coming, he may have jumped.
“We approached him and I saw that he was on the wrong side of the motorway bridge. I got to him and started trying to talk to him and persuade him to come back on the other side.”
Suddenly the man made to jump, and firefighter Steve dived towards him, grabbing him and stopping him from falling.
Steve said: “It’s all a bit of a blur now, I don’t really remember it. I thought he was going to jump and so when he did I just grabbed him.”
The other members of the crew ran to support, and pulled the man from the other side of the bridge.
Greg said: “If Steve hadn’t done that, the man wouldn’t be here. He had gone.
“All that was keeping him on the bridge was us all holding on.”