KFRS awards shine a light on inspiring staff and Kent residents

02 October 2019

Public, Community

Acts of bravery, ingenuity and compassion have been celebrated at Kent Fire and Rescue Service’s (KFRS) annual awards.

Alongside firefighters and other KFRS staff commended for outstanding service, people from communities all over Kent gathered at the Hadlow Manor Hotel yesterday afternoon (1 October) to receive awards for their outstanding, quick thinking, and in some cases life saving, actions during emergency situations.

KFRS Chief Executive Ann Millington said: “Every year we hold these awards to celebrate those who have gone above and beyond, and taken action when others may not have, to help others and save lives. I am always astounded by the stories and selfless nominees who are put forward to receive an award - operational firefighters, support staff and members of the community alike. I’d like to thank them all on behalf of Kent Fire and Rescue Service, as we all share in the same mission to keep our communities safe, be there for people when they need us most, and ultimately save lives.”

Here are just some of the stories from the awards ceremony:

‘In awe of Emma’

Emma Boughton

Fourteen-year-old Emma Boughton from Deal was just one of the nominees to receive an award, for her efforts to save her grandmother’s neighbour, who collapsed on his shed roof while cutting a tree back in August this year.

When Emma found him laying unresponsive, without hesitation she climbed 4ft to reach him and called 999. Under the control operator’s instruction she checked his pulse and began to give CPR until paramedics arrived. Her work didn’t stop there however, and she was requested to help the professionals with more CPR followed by bag and mask breaths, while they assessed the patient.

Emma was on the roof for 20 minutes helping to try and save the gentleman. However, despite her efforts and a further 30 minutes of CPR by paramedics, he sadly could not be saved.

Firefighters who attended the scene to provide medical assistance were in awe of Emma’s impressive efforts and courage that day, especially as she had no prior CPR training.

Crew Manager Paul Copley said: “Emma performed magnificently, had the courage to get involved and performed beyond her years. Brilliant! We were in awe of her.”

Emma said: "When it was happening, all I could think about was the fact that his wife was standing there unable to get up on the roof herself, and that if I had been in her shoes, I would have wanted someone like me to help.”

Following the incident, the Deal crew invited Emma and her family to the fire station. It was an opportunity for Emma to talk through what had happened and help her process her thoughts and feelings, surrounded by firefighters who know what it's like to deal with similar situations. 

'Courage, professionalism and calm in a chaotic scene’

On-call firefighter Russell Marsh was recognised for rushing to the aid of a seriously injured woman involved in a car crash in Ashford, while he was a trainee off duty. Without a second thought for his own safety, he climbed into the back seat of one of three cars involved, to assess, reassure, and give initial casualty care to a woman trapped inside with life changing injuries.

Before the arrival of the emergency services, Russell sprang into action off duty without hesitation to help someone in need. At the time he was a trainee on-call firefighter, with just a few months training under his belt – and this was the first road crash incident he’d ever attended.

Mick Pitney, On-call Manager at Ashford fire station, said: “Russell demonstrated courage, professionalism and calm in a chaotic scene, and these values and behaviours are key assets for KFRS and put him in good stead for his future career within the service.” 

Russell said: "I'm glad to have been in the position to do something – and hopefully I was able to do more than someone who hadn’t had any training at all. Even though I had only been in the service for five months at the time, I had learnt enough to instinctively act.” 

'Quick thinking, courage and ingenuity'

Firefighters Chris Wesson, Thomas Best, Sam Colgan, Craig Redmond and Sam Newton holding their awards

Four firefighters, Tom Best, Sam Newton, Sam Colgan, Craig Redman were recognised for an off-duty rescue they carried out while in the early stages of their trainee recruit course to become firefighters.

Back in April, when they were about to sit down for dinner near Ramsgate harbour after a long day of training, they saw a man on a mobility scooter and his dog fall into the harbour from a pontoon. They ran to his assistance, laid down on the pontoon and reached in to keep his head above the water. Together they pulled him to safety, and managed to rescue the dog and scooter from the sea too.     

Although the man was wet and cold, with support from the trainee firefighters he was able to stand. They found towels and blankets to make him comfortable while they checked him over and took basic medical observations, before relaying important information to paramedics when an ambulance arrived.     

Craig, who is now a firefighter at Dover station, said: “When the incident happened we didn’t really have time to think about it too much. Our careers were only in their infancy as we were trainees, but the bit of training we had had so far just kicked in  - we even used one of the knots that we'd just been taught, when we pulled the gentleman out of the water.”

Station Manager for Trainee Development Richard Nott said: "The decisive actions, speed of thought and team work displayed at such an early stage in their careers, without doubt saved the lives of the gentleman and his dog. A truly remarkable example of quick thinking, courage and ingenuity which most definitely deserves recognition."

‘The best career in the world’

KFRS Operations Director Sean Bone-Knell received the prestigious Kent Medal - a rare accolade recognising outstanding service and commitment to Kent Fire and Rescue Service and the wider Kent community.     

He said: “To receive the Kent Medal is an extremely proud and humbling award for me and my family. Having joined Kent Fire and Rescue Service in 1986, I have experienced many incidents that have been sad, life changing, but also sometimes incredibly rewarding. I started my career in the Thanet area where I lived with my parents, and I have had the chance to work all over the county with some magnificent people and leaders. The fire service has changed over my 33 years and the service we have in Kent is now, and has always been, one of the best in the country. I am incredibly proud to be a member of our senior team and I know our communities are also proud the amazing staff that are ready to respond 24 hours a day. For me it is, and has always been, the best career in the world.”