National Police Bravery Awards: Quick-thinking fed members nominated
“The only way we could reach her was by forming a human chain. I leant over the cliffside - which was around 150 to 200 ft high - as my colleague held onto my vest and I tried to reach the woman.”
Four South Wales Police Federation members who risked their lives as they formed a human chain in an attempt to rescue a woman from a cliff face have been nominated for a national Police Bravery Award.
Inspector Paul Ramsay, Inspector Paul Graham, PC Owen Bedford and a fourth officer who has asked to remain anonymous, were called to reports of a ‘distressed’ woman on the edge of a cliff in Southerndown, South Wales.
“When we arrived, we could just see the top of the woman’s shoulders - she was holding onto the grass to keep upright. There was no lighting up there, the chalky surface was slippery and it was a steep incline. We tried to calm her down by talking to her and then we heard a screech - and she had fallen further down the cliff,” said 47-year-old Paul Ramsay, who will soon be approaching his 20th anniversary in the Police Force.
Inspector Paul Ramsay
“And that’s when we decided to make a human chain.”
The quick-thinking cops decided that they needed to anchor the chain by placing the heaviest officers at the back, and the lightest officer - Paul Graham - at the front.
“I put my foot down, for the woman to grab,” explained 41-year-old Paul Graham, adding: “But it just wasn’t possible - she wasn’t strong enough.”
The only option was for Paul to re-position himself so that he could reach down to the woman with his hands - supported by his colleague, Owen, who was holding firmly onto his vest.
“My life was in Owen’s hands. I needed to reach down with both hands, which meant Owen needed to hold onto my vest. I was hanging over the cliffside,” continued Paul, who has been in South Wales Police Force for five years, having spent 14 in the Met.
“At that moment, you just switch on and focus. You know what you need to do, and you do it - you don’t have the time to think about anything else.
“I managed to grab hold of the woman. We struggled for quite some time, as we tried to pull her back over the cliff before she fell. I remember her saying, ‘I can’t’ and she let go. I knew what the outcome would be.”
The officers rushed down to the beach to find the woman at the bottom of the cliffs, where they spent an hour giving her CPR but sadly could not resuscitate her.
“Rushing down to the beach, you have a sick feeling in your stomach, knowing what you’re going to find,” continued Paul, who says he feels 'touched' to have been nominated for a Police Bravery Award.
Inspector Paul Graham
“You join the police to save people’s lives and to do the right thing. So, when somebody dies, it’s against everything you joined the police for.”
Paul Ramsay admitted he found it difficult to accept the news that they had been nominated for a Police Bravery Award, considering the circumstances.
“This story didn’t have a happy ending and it’s obviously not the outcome any of us wanted,” he said.
“But having spoken to the family following the incident, and having received thanks from them has definitely given me comfort. At the inquest, the mum of the woman actually said to us, ‘you deserve a bravery award’ - and she didn't know at that time that we'd been nominated.”
The National Police Bravery Awards is organised by the National Police Federation for England and Wales (PFEW) and will this year be taking part next week on Thursday 13 July in London.
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