Heroic firefighters honoured for their service to Oxfordshire communities

Twenty-two firefighters who have served Oxfordshire residents for a combined total of over 500 years have been awarded medals on behalf of The Queen in a special ceremony at Blenheim Palace.  

A highlight of the prestigious event involved Oxfordshire’s Lord Lieutenant, Mrs Marjorie Glasgow BEM, presenting ‘Her Majesty, The Queen’s Long Service and Good Conduct’ medals to eleven firefighters, all who have each provided 20 years’ service.

Rob MacDougall, Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer, said: “These awards reflect the service and public’s appreciation and gratitude for each dedicated fire officer’s devotion to duty.

“I am delighted to be able to recognise the achievements of some of our teams, fire cadets and volunteers. It’s beyond comprehension just how many lives our medal and award recipients have collectively impacted during their careers. Congratulations to all on their fantastic achievements.”

Emily Spencer, Head of Operations at Blenheim Palace, said: “Hosting Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service awards ceremony is a great honour for us, and it is fitting such heroic achievements are celebrated in such magnificent surroundings. We would like to add our own thanks and recognition to the dedication and the bravery of our amazing firefighters.”

Pictured above are Banbury recipients: Fire Station Manager, Dave Edge (right), with Crew Manager, Daniel Evans – having both been awarded their 20 years’ service medals – joined by Phillipa Blair (centre) who had just been presented with the Chief Fire Officer’s Commendation.

Case studies – Chief Fire Officer’s Certificate of Commendation

Awarded by the Chief Fire Officer to members of the fire service, partner agencies or the public for acts of bravery, or performing to a high standard under difficult circumstances. This year’s certificates were awarded to:

1) Goring firefighter and his wife – Sean and Sue Absolom

Sean and Sue were recognised for their actions in assisting a seriously injured father and son who had been hit by a vehicle in August last year.

Sean – who is based at Goring Fire Station – was driving along Wallingford bypass with his wife when they saw a father and son waiting to cross the road. Suddenly the youngster, who was on his toy scooter, lurched forward. His father instinctively rushed to grab the boy, but both were struck by a minibus. The child was thrown to the left resulting in a severe head injury. His father hurled to the right resulting in a broken leg.

On seeing the accident occur, Sean jammed on his brakes, stopped his own vehicle and ran to the scene with his wife. Sean’s role as a firefighter means he is first aid trained, and Sue is a community responder for the NHS, so they switched instantly into their lifesaving roles.

With no equipment and no immediate back up, they prioritised treating the child who was unconscious with blood coming from his ear.

Sean quickly dialled 999 while Sue stabilised the young boy. She also intervened to stop a passer-by who wanted to move the child. Without a doubt, her actions saved the boy from further injury, as it was vital he remained still to prevent neck damage.

Sean spoke to a paramedic on his mobile, using the phone’s camera so that images of the injuries could be relayed to an oncoming ambulance crew.

After the incident, Sean received a phone call from the injured child’s mother and heard the great news that her son was on the mend. She also told him that the surgeon had advised the family that Sean and Sue’s prompt intervention had likely saved the life of her son.

Rob MacDougall, Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer, said: “Without Sue and Sean’s quick thinking and their combined trauma care skills, things could have been very different. I am really pleased that we can honour their selfless actions in how they dealt with this emergency.”

Pictured below: Sean and Sue Absolom receiving their Certificate of Commendation from (centre) Chief Fire Officer, Rob MacDougall.

2) Banbury and Hook Norton fire crews

Fire crews from Banbury and Hook Norton were recognised for their prompt actions in tackling a house fire, while carrying out emergency first aid on the occupant who had collapsed.

The two Oxfordshire crews joined colleagues from Warwickshire to attend a house fire at Winchcombe Farm in Upper Tysoe in January this year.

The occupants were alerted to the blaze by their smoke alarm sounding. Smoke was billowing out of one of the light fittings in the lounge and the couple thought initially it was an electrical fire.

They immediately called 999 and evacuated the property, but on leaving the building they saw the roof was on fire. The owner started to tackle the fire with extinguishers, then suffered a cardiac arrest.

When the crews arrived, they not only had to tackle the fire, but Hook Norton and Banbury firefighters undertook CPR in front of shocked family members and onlookers.

The crews worked tirelessly to stabilise the stricken individual while waiting for the paramedics to arrive. They administered lifesaving CPR for more than 20 minutes, most likely saving the individual’s life.

Rob MacDougall, Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer, said: “This is an outstanding example of where quick decision making and teamwork has undoubtedly saved a man’s life. It demonstrates the importance of our firefighters having the right skills to provide emergency medical care, and also their ability to react to the situation in front of them. The crews thoroughly deserve this additional recognition for their actions on that day.”

Pictured below (from left to right): Banbury and Hook Norton firefighters James Beadle, Neil Voce, Nigel Matthews, and Pippa Blair; with Chief Fire Officer, Rob MacDougall.

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