A Watch Manager and a former on-call firefighter have been recognised for their bravery in the final Civilian Gallantry Awards to be approved by the late Queen, before her death last September.
Ed Durante and Craig Jones helped rescue a group of people from a car which had crashed and caught fire on the A38 on 21 June, 2021. They were both off duty at the time.
They are among 15 people named in The Civilian Gallantry List, which recognises the bravery of people who’ve put themselves in danger to save, or attempt to save, someone’s life.
Watch Manager Ed, who works for Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service and is also a paramedic, saw the car lose control and collide with the barrier ahead of him, before catching fire. He immediately rushed to help and found five unconscious passengers inside.
Ed managed to open the driver’s door and pulled the driver clear of the vehicle. He also rescued the front passenger by pulling her across the centre console and driver’s seat.
Seeing what was happening, Cornwall on-call firefighter Craig Jones – who was also off duty and travelling on the A38 – rushed to help. He was able to pull a six-year-old child clear from the middle back seat through the off side rear door, before staying with them to render urgent first aid.
Having rescued those from the front of the car, and with the help of another person, Ed then rescued a passenger who was sitting behind the driver’s seat before once again entering the car and “with considerable effort”, rescued a young man from the far side of the vehicle by releasing the seat belt and pulling him through.
Realising they needed to distance all of the people they’d rescued from the burning car, both firefighters then swiftly moved the casualties away from the vehicle. The car was not extinguished until the first fire appliance arrived, by which time the vehicle was completely destroyed.
Along with off duty medical personnel, both of them then provided first aid care until paramedics arrived.
The casualties sustained a range of injuries, some of which were life changing. However, had Ed and Craig not made such brave and timely interventions, “it is highly likely that there would have been fatalities”.
Both Ed and Craig will be awarded The Queen’s Commendation for Bravery, with future awards to be approved by His Majesty The King and taking his name. These awards are particularly special as they are from the final Civilian Gallantry List to be approved by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, after 70 years of awards.
Ed and Craig spoke to us after news of their awards was announced. Ed said: “I had no idea I’d be receiving the award until the letter came through the post, it’s a huge honour.
“It was such a fast-paced incident that there wasn’t really much time to think. It was a case of understanding the risk of what could potentially happen if no action was taken immediately. I’m sure somebody else would have done the same thing in that position.”
And Craig added: “We’re extremely grateful for this recognition. I was an on-call firefighter at the time and you don’t expect it when you’re off duty – but you instantly slip into firefighter mode and realise the key thing is the extrication of the casualties.
“We had amazing members of the public with us, many of whom luckily also had medical training. It was only afterwards when the reality hit. It’s very different when you turn up as part of a team with all your kit and protection on, and I won’t lie it had more of an effect on me than I thought it would have. I didn’t know until two weeks later that the little girl I pulled out had survived and was doing okay. That was amazing to hear.”
We as a charity support all members of our fire services community, throughout their lives, empowering them to live happier and healthier.
However, we couldn’t continue to do so without your support and donations. And that’s something Ed and Craig say they’re very aware of.
Ed has supported us throughout his career and says: “I’m a big supporter of the Charity through Car Washes and fundraisers, it’s a fantastic cause that’s there for all of us.”
And Craig adds: “I’ve got a lot of friends that have benefitted from the Charity’s services, particularly after incidents, and it’s a brilliant support.”
If you can, donate now so we can be there for our fire family for years to come: