Awards for heroic Norfolk police officer and firefighter who put their lives on the line to rescue woman from Dereham flyover
- Credit: Morgan Hollis
PC Joseph Jermy and watch manager Duncan Barrow clung onto the A47 bridge to stop her falling onto the busy Yaxham Road and railway line below.
Dereham-based PC Jermy was on duty with another officer in the town on May 15, when they saw a young woman in distress standing on the wrong side of the barrier of the flyover.
The officer climbed over on the same side of the barrier as the woman and secured her by holding onto the bridge, while he waited for other emergency services to reach the scene.
A fire crew arrived and Mr Barrow climbed onto the narrow ledge to join PC Jermy and help him prevent the girl from falling more than 20ft to the ground.
Traffic and trains below the bridge were halted. Ladders were erected by firefighters and the girl, who was drifting in and out of consciousness, was safely brought down from the bridge.
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Now PC Jermy and Mr Barrow are both to receive Royal Humane Society testimonials on parchment for their bravery in going to the aid of the girl.
PC Jermy said he saw the girl stumble and fall onto a narrow ledge as he arrived at the scene with a colleague.
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'Someone on the ground who was her carer said she was epileptic,' he said. 'I ran up the side of the bridge. Because there was a large barrier it was a case of staying on the safe side, where I couldn't get hold of her, or shimmying along the ledge she was on.
'I was crouched over her for 10 minutes before the fire service arrived. Running up there I thought: 'I've just got to get up there and stop her falling off.'
As he arrived at the scene, Mr Barrow told his crew to don safety gear for working at heights, before he ran to assist PC Jermy in protecting the young woman.
'I climbed over the railings and for want of a better word I sat on her, basically, so she wouldn't go anywhere,' he said. 'There's so little time, you don't think about it. You're there for a reason.
'Once we did that, the rest of the crew came along, we had another fire engine down below putting a ladder up. The best thing was the actions of the police at the time, everyone was on the same wavelength.'
On top of the awards they are to receive PC Jermy and Mr Barrow have also won the personal praise of Royal Humane Society Secretary, Dick Wilkinson.
Speaking at the Society's London headquarters as he announced the awards he said: 'Both rescuers put their own lives in danger by going out along the narrow ledge on the wrong side of the safety barrier to reach the girl.
'But they didn't hesitate and thankfully managed to prevent the girl falling. If they had not acted in the way they did there could have been a very different, tragic, outcome to this incident. Both of them richly deserve the awards they are to receive.'
No date has yet been fixed for presentation of the awards, which have been made following a recommendation from Norfolk Police, but it is expected to take place in the near future.
After originally joining Norfolk police as a PCSO in 2008, PC Jermy, now 27, became a constable in Dereham in 2012. He was presented with a chief constable's bravery award two months ago at the Norfolk Safer Community Awards.
Chief Constable Simon Bailey said at the time: 'The officer receiving this award exemplifies the selfless acts that police officers put themselves in every day in order to protect the public.'
Mr Barrow is based at Dereham fire station and is a watch manager for the Norfolk Urban Search and Rescue team. He has been a firefighter for more than 25 years and earlier this year flew to Greece to work alongside volunteer rescuers trying to save lives during the refugee crisis.
The roots of the Royal Humane Society stretch back more than two centuries. Its president is Princess Alexandra and it is the premier national body for honouring bravery in the saving of human life.