Suffolk police officer recognised after rescuing woman from sea near Lowestoft
PUBLISHED: 11:22 18 July 2018 | UPDATED: 11:22 18 July 2018
A Suffolk police officer's bravery has been recognised at a special reception at 10 Downing Street.
Pc Stephen Vaughan was nominated for the national Police Bravery Awards – organised by the Police Federation - after rescuing a suicidal woman off the coast of Lowestoft from the freezing North Sea.
Dog handler Pc Vaughan’s act of bravery took place on New Year’s Eve (December 31, 2017) while he was on a late shift. He responded to a call that a highly vulnerable female had left hospital against medical advice.
It was thought she had driven to the seafront, where it was feared she intended to cause herself harm.
While the search was well under way, the ambulance service shared an update that the woman had taken pills and vodka. This, coupled with the fact she had told hospital staff that she intended to take her own life, meant she had to be found fast.
The weather conditions were very poor, preventing the NPAS helicopter from helping. The coastguard was aware but until it was known if the woman was in the sea, they were unable to attend.
Pc Vaughan decided to search on foot and not long after he saw a body floating in the water. Without any consideration for his own safety, he entered the freezing cold December North Sea.
He made his way through the waves and retrieved the body, which was the missing woman.
Pc Vaughan dragged her back onto the beach and started emergency cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), although he was wet and cold himself.
He found a pulse and knowing that help was on the way, placed her in the recovery position and monitored her vital signs until a trauma kit arrived on scene.
He continued to do this along with colleagues until an ambulance arrived and took over her care.
The woman was taken to hospital and thanks to Pc Vaughan’s actions, after treatment was able to make a full recovery.
There is no doubt if she had been in the cold North Sea for much longer she could have died in the sea, alone.
Eighty officers from 40 forces across England and Wales attended a daytime reception at 10 Downing Street on Thursday 12 July. Later in the evening the Police Bravery Awards event, attended by Home Secretary Sajid Javid, took place in London.
The awards are held every year to honour police officers who have performed outstanding acts of bravery while on or off duty. Eight regional winners and one overall national winner were named at the event.
Pc Vaughan said: “It was very humbling to be part of this event. It was a great occasion, quite emotional at times, and it was nice that so many people received recognition for their actions.”
Superintendent Jon Dodman, head of specialist operations for Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies, said: “It is really pleasing to see this act of bravery being recognised at a national level.
“Pc Vaughan’s selfless actions are a credit to him and the entire force. The nomination for the award was very much deserved.”