Ambulance Service Institute presents two masons with major rescue awards

Sunday, 01 April 2007

Emergency services: right place, right time

Serving the community: two Masons win major rescue awards

Lightning, they say, never strikes twice in the same place. Be that as it may, a unique event has hit home twice to Eureka Lodge No. 3763, which meets at Bootle on Merseyside in the Province of West Lancashire. 

Each year the Ambulance Service Institute (ASI) presents awards for outstanding achievements, and Eureka Lodge members Dave Seel, a paramedic, and Dave Anderson, an emergency medical technician, have together achieved an amazing double akin to lightning striking twice in the same place. 

In each case, they were in the right place at the right time at an emergency situation, and were able to play a major role in saving life and limb in what were extremely serious incidents. 

Last year, Dave Anderson was awarded the ASI Private Ambulance of the Year Award, presented at the House of Commons, following action he took when he was first on the scene involving two motorway pile-ups. 

Previously, in 2005, Dave Seel won exactly the same award following a road traffic collision on Manchester’s A57. And to complete the unique double event, Dave Seel had proposed Dave Anderson into Masonry a year earlier. 

Both Masons work for the medical and rescue services division of Safety Provider Ltd, which provides cover for medical rescue occurrences for organisations such as the Highways Agency, the Rockingham race circuit at Corby – where they manage the £100,000 medical centre provision – as well as being an emergency nuclear response team in the event of a national emergency at a power station for British Energy. 

Dave Anderson was the first on the scene at two motorway pile-ups as he drove home. As he approached Junction 25 on the M62, near Brighouse in West Yorkshire, he saw three cars collide, throwing debris across the motorway. 

He explains: “I was driving a marked response vehicle, and as a consequence, I was able to slow the traffic down to make it safe to approach the damaged vehicles and check on the injured drivers. I then helped the police get the victims to the safety of a lay-by as an ambulance arrived. But just moments later, three more cars crashed in an almost identical manner.” 

Dave sprang into action again and helped get three more injured people to safety, but was working, with the support of the police, very much on his own. Luckily, he knew that an ambulance crew was on the way.

Dave Seel was travelling on the A57 Manchester to see a customer when he noticed a collection of vehicles beside a canal on a bridge. There were a few people standing looking over the bridge and they seemed concerned. 

He says: “I was noticed by one bystander who signalled to me to get assistance. I got out of my vehicle and looked at what was causing the interest. To my horror, I observed a small vehicle that looked as though it had travelled approximately 20 feet down an embankment, through two fences and then a further 15 feet into a canal. 

“The vehicle was upside down with only the four wheels and 1/10th of the underbody showing. It is alleged that the vehicle was hit from the rear by a HGV, which caused the incident.” 

Dave Seel shouted down to a bystander, who was in the canal, as to whether there was anyone in the vehicle, and was shocked to discover that there was. Donning his high visibility jacket and helmet, he proceeded down the route the vehicle had taken into the canal. 

He continues: “I was wearing a suit at the time. By the time I got into the canal a further bystander had ventured into the water to assist and they had managed to get one occupant out of the vehicle – a female passenger. I managed to get the driver’s door open and pulled her husband out of the vehicle. 

“He was unconscious and submerged. I realised that he could have been in that state prior to my arrival, some 10 to 15 minutes. 

With the assistance of the bystanders, we got the husband and wife to the edge of the canal, where there was a small stone and sand-filled embankment for my assessment of their injuries.” 

An ambulance arrived along with the fire service, which was a welcoming sight. The fire service checked the vehicle in case there were any further occupants, as well as the surrounding area, and fortunately, there was none. 

A primary and secondary survey Dave carried out on the couple found only cuts and bruises. He then trudged back out of the canal, up the 15ft ladder, up a 1 in 4 muddy embankment of 20 feet and back to his vehicle. 

He sums up the experience thus: “I have been a member of the Red Cross for over 25 years and was a paramedic for Mersey Regional Ambulance Service for over 12 years. I can honestly say I have never dealt with an incident quite like this before. 

“The bystanders who were on scene prior to my arrival were the real heroes. None of them had any formal training to deal with an incident like this, and yet set up a ladder for the rescue and even made attempts to get into the water.” 

Dave puts his actions on that day down to the level of training and exposure to similar incidents over the years he had received from the Red Cross and the ambulance service.

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