Firefighters Awarded for Their Bravery
The high profile incident involved Christopher Grady, who drove his car carrying five-year-old Gabby and a then six-year-old Ryan, into the river at Evesham, Worcestershire, on 11 February last year. Christopher Grady and his son survived the incident but Gabby died three days later.
On arrival at the incident the Firefighters from White Watch, Evesham, quickly realised that a child was trapped in the submerged car. Firefighter Jason Mayhew entered the water but his immersion suit and buoyancy aid prevented him from diving down to attempt a rescue. Without full regard for his own wellbeing, Jason requested permission to remove his buoyancy aid and flood his immersion suit enabling him to dive deeper. Despite a water temperature estimated to be only one degree Celsius, Jason made repeated attempts to dive down to locate and rescue the trapped child. Naturally a water temperature so close to freezing point makes arduous tasks nearly impossible but this did not deter Jason and he continued his rescue attempts for 10-15 minutes until he was ordered out of the water for his own safety. When safely on the riverbank, information was received that it may be possible for a child to survive for up to 90 minutes when immersed in water that cold. With this new information Jason, again without full regard for his own safety, volunteered to re-enter the water to attempt rescue. Jason continued further rescue attempts until it became physically impossible for him to carry on and the chances of survival of the occupant of the car had unfortunately diminished.
Chief Fire Officer Mark Yates said: "I visited Evesham Fire Station today to make these presentations. This incident was so tragic and our Firefighters involved were deeply affected. Whilst we felt it was not appropriate for us to hold an award ceremony to present these medals, we felt it right to recognise the courageous actions of our Firefighters. Jason Mayhew risked his own safety when he entered the water and he was so closely supported by his colleagues."
For his bravery, courage and fortitude under the most arduous of emotional and physical conditions, Firefighter Jason Mayhew has today been awarded Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Authority's Outstanding Service Medal by Chief Fire Officer Mark Yates.
During the incident water rescue equipment including lines, immersion suits and a boat were used. White Watch Evesham tried valiantly for 90 minutes to rescue Gabby. The rescue attempts required the crew to act under intense pressure in very arduous circumstances and also required the command officers to display a high degree of bravery in their command decision.
For the bravery in command displayed by Station Commander David Holland and Watch Commander Julian Jenkins, and the courage displayed by all of the crew members, the White Watch Evesham crew has today been awarded the Chief Fire Officer's Commendation.