Our firefighters have won the emergency services category in the annual ‘Pride of Britain’ awards!
The accolade, sponsored by ITV’s ‘This Morning’ programme, recognises the response of firefighters from Highgate Community Fire Station and our Technical Rescue Unit to a road traffic collision in which a driver was fully impaled on a metal railing.
News of the win came in a ‘live’ TV broadcast this morning (Fri 26 Oct).
Phil Loach, our Chief Fire Officer, said: “It is an honour to receive the award from the ‘This Morning’ programme. This was an exceptional response by our own crews and of all the agencies involved. To have our firefighters recognised as the ‘Pride of Britain’ is very humbling.
“The incident was an exceptional example of why emergency response by firefighters and other ‘blue light’ services continues to have a life-changing impact.
“Our crews train regularly with our police and ambulance colleagues, plus other organisations, to provide a response to emergencies that makes a very real difference, whatever challenges come their way.
“This incident was a first for many of those involved. They drew on their training and professionalism to achieve the best possible outcome for Mr Ewins. We were delighted he made such a speedy recovery.”
Councillor John Edwards, Chair of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority, added “I am delighted that our crews have been recognised by Pride of Britain.
“This goes to show our firefighters wide range of fantastic skills which saved this man’s life”.
Representatives of the 15 firefighters who responded to the incident will attend the awards evening on Monday (29 Oct). It will be televised on ITV at 8pm on Tuesday 6 November.
West Midlands firefighters and ‘blue light’ colleagues work to extricate Phil from his car (Photo: ‘Into the Fire’/UKTV)
Phil Ewins, the driver involved in the near-fatal crash, described the emergency services’ response as ‘world class’.
The accident featured in ‘Into the Fire’ – our very own TV show which was broadcast on Really channel.
The breath-taking action was caught on helmet cameras worn by our crews for the show. A three-metre metal railing had gone into his chest and out of his back, pinning him to his car seat.
Phil, from Liverpool, had been on his way to spend a very special weekend with his girlfriend, Dikla. He’d secretly planned a marriage proposal treasure hunt, starting at her home in Shirley and ending at the restaurant in Liverpool where they had their first date.
But his crash put the plans on hold. Hospital doctors put him in an induced coma and he had two operations. Amazingly, just three weeks later, he was discharged.
Phil can recall the crash in detail. “I remember the doctor arriving at the scene and the car being dismantled around me,” he said. “I listened to the team talking through the options for cutting the bar – and remember really not liking the idea of them using cutters that might twist it.”
However, the arrival of our Technical Rescue Unit with their specialist equipment meant that Phil was successfully cut free – then taken to hospital with a section of the railing still passing through him.
“I know they look back proudly on how they handled such a complex case in a textbook way. They were amazing – so professional, calm, well-drilled and thorough. World class. All of the emergency services worked together seamlessly.”
Dikla and Phil on their wedding day (Photo: Adam Abbott Photography)
In July, some of the firefighters who responded to Phil’s crash were invited to celebrate his marriage to Dr Dikla Arad, who works as a vet.
“Having them at the wedding was one of the highlights of the day. They’re our friends now,” he added.
All wedding photos courtesy and copyright of Adam Abbott Photography.