An Eden firefighter has been recognised by the Queen for saving a teenager’s life.
Stephen Wharton has been awarded a commendation for bravery, part of the Queen’s civil gallantry list, for rescuing the 13-year-old boy from the River Eden in 2019.
On Tuesday February 26 2019, Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service’s Appleby crew were called after the teenager got into difficulty while swimming in the river.
The youngster went under the water and did not resurface.
Once it was realised he was in difficulty, a number of people in the vicinity tried to help; however, after several minutes of trying in vain to rescue the young boy, the emergency services were called.
It was estimated that he had been underwater for approximately 20 minutes prior to the crew arriving.
Because the fire station was near to the incident and due to the urgency of the call, the crew responded on foot to the river as they knew this would provide a quicker response.
Under extremely challenging circumstances, the decision was made to commit two crew members into the river to carry out a rescue.
With the crew briefed, Mr Wharton, crew manager, and another firefighter entered the water, supported by the rest of the crew from the river bank.
The two crew members who entered the river finally located the casualty under the water.
Mr Wharton’s personal flotation device and kit was preventing him from going under water.
In order to rescue the boy, Mr Wharton removed his device, helmet and all the air from his dry suit to enable him to dive under the water, risking his own life in extreme circumstances.
He then successfully dived down to a depth of two to three metres, located the child and brought him to the surface.
With assistance from the rest of the crew, the casualty was brought to the river bank where he was resuscitated and flown to hospital where he made practically a full recovery.
The announcement by the Government said: “The quick thinking, courage and professionalism of Mr Wharton saved the boy’s life and reduced the risk of injury to members of the public.”