Bobby hailed for saving man's life

By Sharon AsplinA TRAFFIC police officer has been nominated as a force's bravest bobby after he saved the life of a man who had jumped into a fast-flowing river.

By Sharon Asplin

A TRAFFIC police officer has been nominated as a force's bravest bobby after he saved the life of a man who had jumped into a fast-flowing river.

Pc Paul Randall, from Chelmsford, braved the freezing conditions on a chilly, winter evening in Great Leighs and waded into the River Ter to rescue a mentally-disturbed man who had leapt 30ft from a bridge on the A131.

Pc Randall becomes Essex Police's first traffic police officer to be put forward in this year's national Police Bravery Awards, run by the Police Federation.

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He was on duty on February 3, 2003, when he was called to investigate a man lying beside the main road in Great Leighs.

Pc Randall arrived to find two paramedics struggling to deal with a violent, disturbed man who was drunk.

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The 31-year-old officer tries to speak to him, but the man was abusive and ran to a nearby bridge, where he jumped into the 20ft-wide river below.

“When the current swept the man downstream, I ran along the bank and urged him to try to grab hold of the branches that were overhanging,” recalled Pc Randall.

“He did so, but he was fast losing his grip as he struggled to keep his head above the water. I had no option but to enter the water and rescue him.

“I found it extremely difficult to breathe at first as the shock of the freezing water got to my body, but I grabbed the man, who was by now floating face down.

“However, he then began to struggle as I pulled his head out of the water and pulled us both further into the river.

“I was now beginning to feel the first signs of hypothermia so, after an enormous effort, I pulled him to the bank where paramedics and my colleagues were waiting.”

Both men were taken to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford for treatment. Pc Randall was discharged later that night, but the man from was detained under the Mental Health Act.

Pc Randall was later awarded a Chief Constable's Commendation for his heroic efforts and received yesterday a public thank you from Essex Chief Constable, David Stevens.

Chief Superintendent Ian Brown, of Essex Police, said: “Paul's action clearly saved the man's life and is a credit to the division. I am pleased to see Paul's bravery being recognised by being the force's nomination for the award.”

The Police Bravery Awards were set up in 1996 to recognise outstanding acts of courage by officers who put themselves at risk from death or serious injury.

Home Secretary David Blunkett will be presenting the awards at London's Dorchester Hotel on Thursday.

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