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THREE rescuers have been officially recognised by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) for saving the lives of two men following an incident in Rochdale.
GMFRS Group Manager Paul Starling and Volunteer Coordinator Nic Wharmby were awarded Letters of Congratulation during a ceremony at Rochdale Community Fire Station last night (Wednesday, March 18, 2015).
PC Neil Parker, from Greater Manchester Police, received a Certificate of Commendation presented by County Fire Officer Steve McGuirk. It was the last time the current CFO will present a commendation before his retirement.
Photo caption: Left to right are: Volunteer Coordinator Nic Wharmby, PC Neil Parker, Group Manager Paul Starling and CFO Steve McGuirk.
The trio were involved in the rescue of two men from a canal in Rochdale on the afternoon of July 23, 2014.
Paul was travelling along Oldham Road when a police dog unit behind him was flagged down by a member of the public pointing towards the canal opposite Lock 50 Business Centre.
Neil, who was in the police vehicle, pulled over to investigate and was shortly followed by Paul.
There was a large crowd of people forming around the canal lock and one man, aged in his 30s, had fallen into the canal and was quickly going under the water – he was struggling to keep afloat in the cold temperatures.
Paul called North West Fire Control (NWFC) to report the incident and request the Water Incident Unit – at the same time Neil got an extra-long dog lead from the unit and began attempts to rescue the man.
Neil threw the lead to the man and helped him attach the rope to himself to stop him slipping back under the water.
Just as this happened, GMFRS Volunteer Coordinator Nic Wharmby drove past and saw what was going on. He pulled over and assisted Neil in holding the man above the water while Paul attempted to control the scene and ensure that resources were on the way from NWFC.
Moments later there was a dramatic twist when another member of the group jumped into the water to help his friend. Fortunately other police officers had begun to arrive by this time and they controlled the scene while the rescuers got a rope around the second man.
Fire engines soon arrived on the scene and full water rescue procedures were put into place, equipment was set up and the crew managed to get the two men to the other end of the lock where they were able to get out.
County Fire Officer Steve McGuirk said: “I would like to congratulate Neil, Paul and Nic for their quick-thinking and brave actions on the afternoon of July 23, 2014, which undoubtedly saved the lives of two men.
“It was a pleasure to be able to officially recognise the officers with an event at our newest fire station – Rochdale, which officially opened a year ago today.
“It was the final Certificate of Commendation I will present as County Fire Officer for GMFRS and it was a real honour to do so.”
Group Manager Paul Starling said: “It’s a bit of a shock when you come across an incident like this with a big crowd of people who are screaming and distressed, and you don’t have any of the normal resources and equipment with you.
“You are putting yourself at risk and all kinds of scenarios go through your head – so you have you think of your on safety as well as the safety as others. Luckily it was a good outcome.
“It was an honour to be officially recognised in this way, although it was unexpected, and PC Neil Parker thoroughly deserves the recognition.