The Royal Humane Society today honoured a policeman for his actions in saving a woman and getting his man in a script which could have come from a blockbuster film.
Royal Humane Society President, Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra, today awarded PC Robert Condy-Young the 2010 Police Medal for the greatest act of gallantry by a police officer after he pulled a woman from a car that was about to be engulfed by flames.
The 35-year-old officer from Devon & Cornwall Constabulary responded to the horrific car accident near Shaldon in Devon at 2.30am on April 5, 2009.
The female passenger suffered neck injuries in the crash and was trapped by her legs.
Fearing the car would explode, PC Condy-Young considered amputating the woman's foot to free her but managed to lift her out and give first aid until help arrived.
He then arrested the driver, who had walked away unhurt from the crash he caused without even dialling 999. The driver, who had returned to the scene to watch the rescue unfold, was later jailed for three years after pleading guilty to causing grievous bodily harm and dangerous driving.
PC Condy-Young, a former Royal Marine and police officer for four years said: "When I first got there I couldn't see the woman was in the car. She was so slumped over. She was unconscious and the flames were about a foot above the engine block and I knew I needed to get her out.
"She was obviously badly injured and you are always told not to move someone in that condition but it was a choice between getting her out or her possibly burning to death.
"I tried to drag her towards me but she was trapped by the feet. I wasn't going to leave her in there. I even felt for the small knife that we carry on our belts and looked to see if it was possible for me to amputate her feet.
"I know it sounds drastic but that's what went through my mind."
With the help of another passerby PC Condy-Young was able to free the woman’s legs and remove her from the vehicle.
He said: “There isn't a day that goes by when I don't think about what happened and if I did the right things, but, given the circumstances again, I know I would act in exactly the same way."
Royal Humane Society secretary Dick Wilkinson said:
“PC Condy-Young showed tremendous courage and selflessness in climbing inside this car, which could have exploded at any moment.
"But for his bravery, the trapped woman might not have survived. Not only did he manage to save her life, but he then went on to pursue and arrest the suspected driver of the vehicle who had left the scene.
"He is a credit to the police and richly deserves the special honour of the 2010 Police Medal."
ACPO president Sir Hugh Orde said:
“Everyday police officers put themselves in harm’s way as part of doing their job to protect the public.
PC Condy-Young’s selfless and courageous actions are an inspirational example of the bravery routinely shown by our officers in confronting danger.
Very often we hear news reports of life-threatening situations without ever knowing the stories of those who had the job of answering the calls for help.
They can involve accidents such as this, or crime, but it takes very special personal qualities to respond, and every day our police officers do so with immense professionalism and pride. I’m delighted we have the opportunity to recognise and thank PC Condy-Young for his brave actions.”
The award was presented to PC Condy-Young during the annual ACPO conference, being held in Harrogate.
Notes to Editors
- The Royal Human Society has been giving awards since 1774 and has dealt with over 86,000 cases resulting in some 150,000 awards. Formal permission for the Society’s medals to be worn by armed forces personnel in uniform was granted in 1869 and this was subsequently extended to civilian services.
- The Royal Humane Society gives awards to those who put their lives into danger to save, or attempt to save, someone else.
- The aim of this award is to recognise brave and selfless people who put others before themselves, despite the risk. By bringing their deeds of bravery to public notice, the Society believes that a single act of humanity becomes both an example and an inspiration.
- At a Committee Meeting on 8 August 2000, having obtained the agreement of the Association of Chief Police Officers, it was resolved that there should be a new medal in silver gilt, given annually ‘for the case of greatest gallantry by a Police Officer of the United Kingdom during the year’.
- PC Robert Condy Young is pictured with his wife Helen after being presented with the Royal Humane Society Police Medal for 2010 by Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra. Devon and Cornwall Chief Constable Stephen Otter was also in attendance.
The ACPO Press Office can be contacted via 020 7084 8946/47/48 (office hours) or via 07803 903686 (out of office hours).
The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) is an independent, professionally led strategic body. In the public interest and, in equal and active partnership with Government and partner agencies, ACPO leads and co-ordinates the direction and development of the police service in the United Kingdom. In times of national need ACPO, on behalf of all chief officers, co-ordinates the strategic policing response.
ACPO’s 295 members consist of 213 chief police officers from the home forces of assistant chief constable rank (commanders in the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police) and above, plus 55 senior police staff members from the 44 forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Non home forces such as British Transport Police have 24 chief police officer members and there are three members from the Service Police.