Members of Blue Watch involved in the rescue of a worker from Yarmouth Minster, with incident commander Phil Berry, front right, and MP Brandon Lewis, at the Norfolk Fire awards. Picture: Denise Bradley

Video: Firefighters and paramedics scoop award for dramatic Norfolk tower rescue

Thursday, November 15, 2012
11.55 AM

Fire officers and paramedics scaled new heights in teamwork during a daring rescue on the tower of Great Yarmouth Minster.


• Long Service and Good Conduct Medals: 20 years, Richard Pooley, Methwold, Beverley Woodward, headquarters. • 30 year Outstanding Service Certificate: Ray Harcourt, Thetford, Steven Hibbett, Downham Market, James Groom, Heacham, Grant Cotterell, King’s Lynn.

• 35 Years Service: Alan Gillings, Heacham, Adrian Harvey, Hethersett, Paul Scott, Long Stratton, Mark Sturman, Gorleston, Roy Woods, Attleborough, Peter Martin, King’s Lynn.

• 50 Years Service Award: William Cox.

• Chief Fire Officer’s Certificate of Commendation: Red Watch Carrow: for actions which saved a woman’s life after she became fully submerged in the River Yare at Norwich in March.

• Collaborative Working Award: Blue Watch Great Yarmouth, Blue Watch Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) on call, Gorleston Retained crew.

• Best station contribution to the Firefighters Charity: Great Yarmouth.

• Firefighters Charity recognition award: Station Manager Phil Berry.

• Fire Cadet volunteers recognition award: all volunteers who help keep the Fire Cadet units up and running.

• Making a Difference award: Terry Smith, Support Technician at Great Yarmouth

• Community recognition award: Neil Reader and Katy Pointer: members of the public who stopped and made a real difference at a road traffic collision.

And at a fire service awards presentation at Norwich City Football Club last night their sterling efforts were recognised with a collaborative working award.

Yarmouth station’s blue watch, a retained crew from Gorleston and an urban search and rescue (USAR) team from Dereham were all commended.

Incident commander Phil Berry, station manager at Carrow, said the rescue was a “celebration of Norfolk’s blue light emergency services coming together for the benefit of the community”.

Mr Berry, who put the crews forward for the award, said it was one of the most complicated rescues in his career.

He said: “It started with a report that an adult male had fallen from scaffolding and landed on a lower level sustaining injuries that were potentially spinal.

“That created a problem that if we moved him without careful planning, it could make his condition a lot worse.”

He said it was not feasible to reach the tower with an aerial ladder platform and it was not possible to come down the stairs inside with a spinal board so they had to organise a rescue using lines.

The USAR crew set up the lines on the tower in preparation for specially trained paramedics from the hazardous area response team to abseil down with the patient.

Mr Berry said: “It was essential to co-ordinate all the special skills, and carrying it out 90ft up – where one slip could be disastrous – made it all the more difficult.”

Once down the tower on to the transept roof, it was possible to lower the casualty, Michael Sheldrake, to the ground using the aerial ladder platform.

Mr Sheldrake, 26, thankfully escaped with only broken ribs.