London Fire Brigade

Training firefighters save trapped boy's leg

02 August 2012

Dagenham firefighters saved a boy from drowning after his leg was trapped in a boat’s propeller at Fairlop Waters Country Park on Tuesday 17 July.

Firefighters, who had been training nearby, quickly realised that the boy was trapped by the propeller which had become tied around his shoe laces. He was submerged up to his neck, and Firefighters Geoff Hircock, Mark Timothy, Ellis Webb, and Adam Flanagan entered the water to relieve Fairlop Country Park staff, who’d been supporting him.

With two of the crew supporting the boy, the firefighters were able to tow the boat to shallower waters, enabling the rescue to take place more safely.
The boy was not complaining of pain but firefighters felt down his leg and realised that his calf was seriously injured. Firefighter Hircock had a knife to hand and Firefighter Timothy was able to reach down and cut the laces, freeing the boy. The crew then brought the boy to the bank, where Crew Manager Maher packed and bandaged the wound and gave him oxygen.

Dagenham’s station manager, Paul McClenaghan, said:

“There is no doubt in my mind that the actions of those firefighters saved the young man’s life. He had been in the water for nearly half an hour before we were alerted, so if we hadn’t been training nearby, this could have ended tragically. He was very pale when we got him out of the water, so the team kept him warm with tunics and survival blankets. They also chatted to him to distract him from his injuries and keep him calm.

“The crew will undoubtedly be commended for the quick thinking, teamwork and bravery they showed. It proves why the training we were undertaking on that day is so important.”

A paramedic from the London Ambulance Service arrived shortly afterward and took over the first aid. He was taken to hospital via air ambulance.

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Photo caption: Firefighter Mark Spinks, Crew Manager Terry Maher, Firefighter Ellis Webb, Firefighter Mark Timothy, Firefighter Geoff Hircock. (unfortunately Firefighter Adam Flanagan was unwell at the time the photo was taken)