Officers praised for saving man minutes from death after fall into River Trent

Quick-thinking PC James Patterson entered the water with a life ring tied with a rope and grabbed hold of the man while PC Paul Easter and two other officers worked together to pull them to safety and give initial medical help before paramedics took over. The man was taken to hospital for treatment.

The four officers – all of whom work within East Midlands Operational Support Service (EMOpSS) – have been recommended for a commendation or award following their courageous and professional actions in fast-moving circumstances near Trent Bridge at about 4.35pm on Saturday (18 February 2017).

PC Patterson and PC Easter were inside the City Ground after being deployed to Forest’s home match against Sheffield Wednesday when they received a message that a man had fallen into the river.

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The pair, who are experienced members of the Nottinghamshire Police Underwater Search Unit, quickly ran to help and, after coming out at the Trent End, saw a man in the water with his arms waving.

PC Patterson (pictured) spotted a life ring and rope and took it to the riverside. At this point he could see the man was tiring and realised the only option was to enter the water, so started taking off his uniform.

Meanwhile PC Easter had grabbed two 20m throw-lines and tied them together and attached them to the life ring, holding on to one end as PC Patterson swam out to the middle of the river. PC Patterson had just two metres left on the rope by the time he reached the man, who by this time was unconscious.

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PC Easter was then joined by other officers to pull them to the riverbank.

After about three to four minutes of unstinting effort by two other officers, the victim started to show signs of life and a pulse was detected. The officers continued their life-saving work and they were subsequently joined by paramedics who, after further stabilisation took the victim to the Queen’s Medical Centre.

PC Patterson has been a qualified lifesaver since the age of 16 and a strong competitive swimmer, and in recent years has captained the Police Lifesaving Team and represented GB Police for swimming. He is also qualified in Swiftwater Rescue and has had regular exposure to the River Trent as part of his duties with the Underwater Search Unit.

He said: “Ever since I joined the police I have listened to similar incidents and imagined what I would do in a similar scenario, having been on the underwater search unit I have played this exact scene out in my mind and how I would react to it.

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The moment I started taking my clothes off to enter the water it became real but adrenaline kicked in and I just went in to auto pilot.

“When I was told that the male was now breathing again I had an overwhelming emotion of achievement that I can’t really explain.

“There are some things you train for thinking you will never get to put into action, to get that opportunity and to save a life as a result has given me one of those rare moments where you actually look in the mirror and think ‘well done you’.”

Sergeant Julian Smedley has recommended the four officers for an award or commendation.

He said: “This was an exemplary piece of work by all officers. They all upheld the finest traditions of the British Police Service and have my wholehearted admiration. I am very proud to be part of an organisation which has officers of this calibre in its ranks, working to keep the public safe from harm without thought for themselves.

“PC Patterson displayed true courage, selfless commitment and determination as he entered the river to save the man’s life on a February afternoon. He gave no thought for his own safety – sheer confidence in his own ability as a strong swimmer and member of the Underwater Search Unit prevailed. Amazing stuff and worthy, I respectfully submit, of consideration for a significant external and internal award or commendation.

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“PC Easter’s fast-thinking actions with the throwlines and buoy made the whole attempt feasible. His calmness, experience, expert Underwater Search Unit skills and knowledge cannot be overemphasised. Without his involvement, the rescue may not have succeeded. PC Easter demonstrated superb teamwork, ingenuity under pressure and commitment to protect life as a result.

“The two other officers’ actions were of the highest standards. They deployed to this incident and put their advanced training into effect. They persevered with CPR on a victim who had just been pulled from the river and prepared the defibrillator and oxygen for use if required. Their actions are in the finest traditions of the Service and they were both determined to do all they possibly could to save the victim’s life. Their actions ultimately re-established the victim’s heartbeat and saved his life.

“As a team of four, these officers conducted themselves in a truly inspirational way, delivering the ultimate service to the community in the saving of a human life. Any member of the public watching this would have been undoubtedly highly impressed and reassured with the capabilities of the Police Service.”