Hero Gorleston firefighter ‘honoured’ to receive award
- Credit: SIMON FINLAY
An off-duty firefighter honoured for his efforts in rescuing a man from a car accident has told of his pride in being named Fire Service Person of the Year at the EDP Stars of Norfolk and Waveney Awards.
Scott Fryer, from Gorleston, and two friends were on the way to work as nightclub doormen in Dereham on May 23, 2015, when two vehicles ahead of them were involved in a collision.
The crash happened just before 9pm on the A47 Acle Straight, and one of the cars came off the road and landed upside down in a ditch. It was fast filling with water when 28-year-old Mr Fryer - a former Infantry Marksman in the Royal Anglian Regiment and retained firefighter - sprung into action.
Mr Fryer, who is based at Gorleston fire station smashed the window with help from friends Barry McGivern, from Yarmouth and Troy Lacey, from Martham. They managed to free the driver, later identified as Paul Chipperfield, from Gorleston, who was trapped inside.
'The first thing I saw was that the driver was trapped upside down in an already half submerged car,' said Mr Fryer, who lives in Gorleston with his partner Hollie.
'My initial thought was 'there's a man down there who, unless I try to do something, is certainly going to die alone and in a dyke filled with water'.
'I could see from the damage to the vehicle that his leg was trapped by the dashboard, so I called a passer-by who was on the bank to throw me something metal so I could smash the window.'
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The trio used a piece of metal from the other car involved to smash a back window. They then reached through to unbuckle Mr Chipperfield's seat belt and assisted by a paramedic, dragged the unconscious man from the car and started CPR.
'I just acted on instinct and did everything I could to get that man out of the water and, hopefully, to safety,' Mr Fryer said.
Soon after, fire crews and the East Anglian Air Ambulance arrived and Mr Chipperfield was flown to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in a critical condition.
It later emerged that Mr Chipperfield has been on his way to work as a shuttle bus driver at Radio 1's Big Weekend in Norwich, when he was involved in a head-on collision.
Mr Chipperfield spent two weeks in a critical condition, with wife Cheryl and daughter Emma at his side. He suffered bruising to his brain, shoulder muscle injuries, wrist fractures, broken ribs, broken back bones, a broken femur and a broken tibia. His right leg was described by doctor's as 'mush'.
It was a fortnight before medics knew that Mr Chipperfield would pull through, and in the weeks that followed he was pumped full of morphine and antibiotics. At one point he feared he would have to have his leg amputated, but major surgery managed to save it.
Slowly, he is getting back on his feet, and Mr Chipperfield has now managed to take his first few steps unaided.
'Without a second thought, those three guys [Fryer, McGivern and Lacey] risked everything to save a stranger that night,' said Mrs Chipperfield.
'They are heroes and we will be forever in their debt. They saved more than one life that evening, they saved an entire family and we thank them sincerely. Without them, Paul just wouldn't have made it.'
Mr Chipperfield can't remember anything about the crash, and it was weeks before he was fully aware of what had happened to him - at first he feared he had been behind the wheel of his bus with passengers on board.
'I can remember little things, like hospital light and sounds,' he said.
The couple also thanked the paramedics, fire crews, and doctors who treated Mr Chipperfield, as well as neighbours, family and friends, and colleagues at First Bus for their support and encouragement.
Mr Fryer, who now works for Aviva, became a retrained firefighter around Christmas 2014.
'I've always wanted to be a firefighter and saw it as a natural progression after leaving the army,' he said.
'I was very honoured to receive the award, it was a very proud moment in my life. But because it was Fire Service of the Year, I think my two friends missed out on the recognition they deserved too. I think Baz and Troy deserve some recognition for helping me.'
He has since been put forward for a Royal British Humane award as well as receiving a Chief Constable's Commendation from the police, as they were so impressed with his actions.
Mr Chipperfield said that once he is back on his feet, he looks forward to meeting with all those involved in his rescue.
'All I can say is that we're so grateful, and I wish we could have been there to see him get the award,' he added.
Mr Fryer received his award alongside 17 others - in various categories - at the EDP Stars of Norfolk and Waveney Awards on December 3, at St Andrews Hall, Norwich.