WATCH: Firefighters receive prestigious awards for saving swimmer's life

Three Jersey firefighters have been presented with prestigious awards for rescuing a swimmer in 'horrendous conditions'.

The dramatic night-time rescue of a swimmer from 'treacherous' breaking waves in St Ouen's Bay happened on 20 August 2023.

The high tide had combined with strong swell and rough conditions, and the man could not get himself to safety.

Jersey Fire and Rescue and the Coastguard attended the rescue mission at 9.15pm and realised it was too difficult to send out the inshore rescue boats.

The teams decided to send rescue swimmers to save the man's life. 

It took several attempts to reach the casualty, and of the firefighters needed hospital treatment for the injuries they suffered during the rescue.

The Lieutenant Governor, Vice Admiral Jerry Kyd presented Jonny Burch and Chris Sweeney with Jersey Humane Society Silver Medals and Nick Willis with a Jersey Humane Society Bravery Parchment in a ceremony at Government House on 7 June.

The rare awards are given for acts of gallantry, courage and self-sacrifice.

Paul Battrick, of the Jersey Humane Society said: “We should be proud of our firefighters. They put their lives at risk that night - going to save someone’s life.

“The Jersey Humane Society was really impressed with the way they reacted on that night, in horrendous conditions. Words can never explain what they went through, but the video shows the power of the sea and the conditions they faced.

“We all know what a wonderful job they do, but it’s not very often that you see it. We all should be very proud of them.”

Credit: States of Jersey Fire & Rescue

Jonny Burch said it was a great honour to received the medal.

"It was a very dynamic incident, and it is a privilege to work in an organisation such as ours, where teamwork is so important and the reliance on your team to have your back when needed.

"It was great to share the day my family at Government House and it was such an honour to be recognised in this way.”

His colleagues were just as thrilled with their awards, with Chris Sweeney saying it was a real surprise when he found out he had been nominated.

"It wasn’t something that I would have expected.

"I know that the Silver Humane Society medals aren’t given out frequently, which makes it feel extra special."

Nick Willis says having his family with him at Government House was a treat.

"It was a real thrill for me to be recognised for my small contribution to this difficult high tide rescue which we performed last summer.

"It was a treat to have my family with me at Government House and I was very proud to see my colleagues receive their Jersey Humane Society silver medals.”

Image Credit: RNLI JerseySt Ouen's Bay

Chief Fire Officer Paul Brown says he is immensely proud of these three firefighters.

"There is no doubt that the efforts of the crew saved the life of the man in the water.

"This rescue is in the best traditions of our profession, and a firm reminder of how Jersey firefighters are prepared every day to put themselves in harm’s way to save lives."

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