Pictured left to right are Niel Wickens, Toby and Katie Evans and Linda Snow.
13 April 2010
The central characters in a dramatic rescue from a house fire six months ago have been reunited and thanked at a special awards ceremony organised by Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service.
A mother trapped in her home with her 10-day-old baby girl, the member of staff from the Control Room who remained on the telephone to calm and reassure her throughout the 999 ordeal and the firefighter who carried baby Abigail to safety came face to face for the first time since the harrowing events of 19 September.
In the early hours of that Saturday morning, a fire broke out near the door of a top-floor bedroom in a three-storey house in Pershore Croft, Monkston, Milton Keynes, trapping Katie Evans and her baby daughter.
Firefighter Control Linda Snow, from Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service's Control Room in Aylesbury, remained on the line to Katie for more than 10 minutes to provide reassurance and fire survival guidance until firefighters were in the room with her.
Linda was presented with an official letter of commendation from Chief Fire Officer Mark Jones by Jenny Hopkirk, Vice Lord-Lieutenant for Buckinghamshire, in recognition of her contribution to the successful firefighting and rescue operation.
Her colleagues in the Control Room that morning - Watch Manager Tracey Millward and Firefighter Control Penny Pawaar - and firefighters from Blue Watch at Broughton Fire Station received letters of congratulations earlier this year.
Tracey and Penny were able to relay vital information from Mrs Evans to the crews from Broughton and Bletchley as they were heading to the incident, enabling them to shave precious seconds off the time spent planning the rescue and locating Katie and Abigail.
Katie and her husband Toby were presented with a commemorative plaque and a bouquet by Mrs Hopkirk.
Denis O'Driscoll, Area Manager Response, said: "While her instincts might have been telling her to do something completely different, Mrs Evans followed the guidance provided both by our firefighters and staff from our Control Room.
"She did everything in her power to protect her baby, and held everything together during what must have been the most frightening experience of her life. In doing so, she made a vital contribution to the outcome - two people trapped by fire, two people rescued."
He added: "Apparently baby Abigail was pretty good too!"
By coincidence, the firefighter who carried Abigail to safety was also at the ceremony. Firefighter Niel Wickens from Broughton Fire Station was there to receive a medal for 20 years' service.
Two other firefighters from the incident were at the ceremony too. Watch Manager Bob Stilton from Bletchley Fire Station and Crew Manager Robert Howe from Broughton Fire Station both received 25-year certificates.
Station Manager Tim Parkins, the incident commander, and Group Manager Ian Taylor, who carried out the fire investigation, also attended to show their support.