Honours for emergency workers after Walsall flood rescue attempt

By Jordan Reynolds | Walsall | News | Published:

Emergency workers have been given life-saving and bravery honours after attempting to save a van driver caught in flooding in Walsall.

Rescue workers from West Midlands Fire Service at the scene last year

Four police officers and two firefighters will receive the national gongs after battling to save 82-year-old Peter Harnwell, from Evesham, whose camper van was caught in a flood on Lichfield Road, Rushall, after a lime pit overflowed.

Police were alerted when two people were standing on the roof screaming for help as the driver was trapped inside.

First on the scene in the early hours of May 28 were PCs Jake Brown and Claire Watkins.

Both of them went into the water, which was up to 8ft deep, and PC Brown swam to the vehicle while PC Watkins stood in the water and acted as a link with the police control room.

PC Brown and the two men on the roof managed to force the roof of the camper open to get the driver out after trying unsuccessfully to smash the window.

Two firefighters and two more police officers then arrived at the scene, also swam out to the vehicle to help, and CPR was administered on the driver.

An airbed was then obtained by bystanders and used to float the man back to dry land. At that stage the driver was still alive but he later died in hospital.

Now PC Brown has been awarded a Royal Humane Society Testimonial on Vellum for his bravery.


PC Simon Allen and firefighter Will Lane are to receive Testimonials on Parchment from the Society and PC Watkins is to receive a Certificate of Commendation.

The other police officer and firefighter who were involved, who cannot be named, have each been awarded Testimonials on Parchment and Resuscitation Certificates for their part in the rescue operation.

All those involved have also won the personal praise of Andrew Chapman, Secretary of the Royal Humane Society.

He said: “This was a horrific situation. It was dark and dangerous but all involved did a superb job first in rescuing the driver from the cab of the vehicle and then in their fight to resuscitate him.

“Sadly he died in hospital later, but they all did a fantastic job in getting him out of the vehicle in terrible conditions and then fighting to resuscitate him. They were all heroes and richly deserve the awards they are to receive.”

The roots of the Royal Humane Society stretch back more than two centuries. The Queen is its patron and its president is Princess Alexandra. It is the premier national body for honouring bravery in the saving of human life.

Jordan Reynolds

By Jordan Reynolds
Reporter - @jreynolds_star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star.

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