True Hero

Night-time in London.

I'm carrying our equipment down to the river. From this distance I can only see it as a dark ribbon against the lights of the city. It's choppy, so the lights don't reflect, it looks like ink.

The wind cuts right through my hi-vis jacket and the fleece I'm wearing underneath it. We are following a marine policeman down the steps into the dark.

We have two patients, both of which have spent time in the freezing Thames.

The boat that they both were on is docked next to them. Police and firefighters are already there, they have done their best to dry the pair off – our patients are wearing borrowed hi-vis jackets – ones that say 'Police'.

It was an accident – our first patient didn't mean to go swimming in the Thames. Our second patient did.

The first man had been on the boat enjoying a cigarette, he was leaning against the railing when he felt something 'give way'. Down he went into the Thames. Cold and dark, with fast currents and who-knows-what diseases.

The second man? Young, I'd wager not long out of school. He works on the boat, when he heard the shouted alarm he dived over the side of the boat. He was the one who kept the first man afloat while the cold sapped his muscles.

The first man – so cold he doesn't shiver. We work on warming him up, on not stressing his body. He'll get rushed to hospital on blue lights. He'll be fine, but I don't think he realises how close to dying he came.

The second man – standing by the heater, trousers off and borrowed jacket wrapped around him. He doesn't want to go to hospital – he quite fancies a warm shower at home though. I check him over and declare him fit to refuse treatment. I tell him that he probably saved the other man's life. He waves it off as if he doesn't believe me.

Every uniformed service there thinks that the second man should get a medal.

I look at the pitch-black freezing water churning against the dock.

And agree.


It's that time of year, and those length of shifts, where I'm finding it hard to motivate myself out of bed – let alone blog. So if my postings get a little sparse I apologise in advance. Oh – and I also have a book I'm supposed to be writing…

13 thoughts on “True Hero”

  1. That's the kind of good news that never makes the papers or the telly, isn't it?Thanks – for the good news, and a beautiful bit of writing! :o)

    Have you ever tried 5HTP for the winter blues?

  2. Deep dark water, my deep dark fear, it could so easily have been two lives lost, what a modest hero.Sorry to hear the winter blues have got ya, my friend was feeling much the same and has been crawling into bed at 7pm each evening (I know not a luxury available to you and your colleagues) totally exhausted, with only the fear of the wrath of the children's headteacher, getting her out again the next morning, she bought a 'light box' and is now leaping about like a spring lamb.

  3. Great story. But begs the question:Is there a process in place whereby you can nominate people for a medal? And have you ever done so?

  4. Supposedly you can put someone up for an honour, I tried that for a friend but nothing came of it. I presume you could contact the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, they might know.At least this blog has provided a commendation, it would be nice if the rescuer read it.

  5. Makes a change to see someone putting themselves out for others. This person really does deserve some form of recognition for this.

  6. Contact the Royal Humane Society:Royal Humane Society

    Brettenham House

    Lancaster Place

    London

    WC2E 7EP

    Tel: 020 7836 8155

    http://www.royalhumane.org/

    The society awards medals, testimonials and certificates for acts of bravery in the saving of human life and for effecting successful resuscitations. It's been doing that since the late 1700s.

    I'd strongly suggest putting the rescuer forward for the Royal Humane Society Bronze Medal, which is awarded to people who have put their own lives at great risk to save or attempt to save someone else.

    David Bradbury was awarded the Bronze Medal back in April for going into the Thames to pull a man to safety after he fell out of a dinghy at Penton Hook Lock.

    The rescuer in your incident was equally brave in going in to save the other man, so do put him forward. An excellent story about someone being prepared to make a difference.

  7. After normally hearing horrible things that people do to each other, or the idiots that ring ambulances for no reason, it's nice to hear of two things…One: someone who really needed an ambulance, and all the other assistance he got – and that you weren't out at some other idiot who was just drunk or the like at the time, so you were able to do it.

    Two: Someone who actually helped someone else, and didn't want to burden an ambulance, or have anything else. I've seen it a few times before, but it really is nice when you see that streak in people that reminds you we're not all fucked. 🙂

  8. What's the betting the someone will turn around and say “No you can't use those patient details in order to put him up for an award. Patient confidentiality etc.”?I wouldn't jump in the Thames at this time of year, let alone in Summer.

  9. I hope he gets recognition elsewhere, but if not at least you let this story be known to many via this blog. -And maybe this is one of the entries will make it into the book? It deserves to.This is also a timely reminder that the 'youth of today' should not be judged by the actions of a bad few.

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