London fire crew praised for saving two lives in two hours in Whitechapel

07:00 14 August 2012

Four London firefighters have been praised after rescuing a woman from a blaze and then saving the life of a man who had collapsed in the street—all in the space of two hours.

Now the crew stationed at Bethnal Green in London’s East End could be in line for a Fire Brigade Lifesavers’ commendation.

They were called to the blaze in a block of flats in Brady Street, Whitechapel, where the woman was trapped in her balcony on the fifth floor.

They put out the blaze as she was being treated at the scene for the effects of breathing smoke and for asthma.

It was while they were leaving they noticed a man 200 yards further along the street lying collapsed on the pavement.

Firefighters Gareth Jones, Dave Egan, Dave Dighton and Bill Holland grabbed the defibrillator life-saving kit that’s kept on board fire-engines and ran towards the man. A passer-by told them the man had collapsed holding his chest.

They asked a police officer to call the ambulance that had been at the fire to return.

Meanwhile, the firefighters started resuscitation while the ambulance was on its way back.

Just four minutes later, the man showed signs of recovery.

The crew’s actions last month drew praise this week from the Fire Brigade’s Tower Hamlets senior commander, Bruce Epsly.

“I am in no doubt the actions of the crew saved this man’s life,” he said.

“This shows how alert the four firefighters were—saving the woman from the fire and then the man in the street. It also shows how important the first-aid training is.”

They were one of four crews originally called to the blaze from Bethnal Green, Whitechapel and Old Kent Road fire-stations at lunchtime on July 25, who had the blaze under control in just seven minutes from arrival.

Every fire-engine in London is equipped with new high-tech first aid equipment, including defibrillators. Crews are trained in using it when they are the first on the scene, especially where victims cannot be easily reached.

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The service was inundated with offers of help, but has said its supplies are “adequate”.

“They were more than just police officers – they were a son, they were a husband, and they were a dad.”

The incident happened in George Square, close to Queen Street Station.

Eyewitnesses describe bodies lying in the road.

Quirky London