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Bravery award beckons for rescue hero

PUBLISHED: 10:03 23 August 2007 | UPDATED: 11:25 01 July 2010

A HELICOPTER crewman has been nominated for a bravery award after he saved a fire-fighter from a forest fire. RAF Search and Rescue Flight Lieutenant Ian Saunders, originally from Beckenham, won the regional heats of an award along with his crewmates af

A HELICOPTER crewman has been nominated for a bravery award after he saved a fire-fighter from a forest fire.

RAF Search and Rescue Flight Lieutenant Ian Saunders, originally from Beckenham, won the regional heats of an award along with his crewmates after they saved a fireman who was trapped in an inferno in south Wales last Spring.

Mr Saunders and Wing Commander Jonathan Dixon, Sergeant Simon Green and Sergeant Andy Leonard, who were based in Chivenor at the time, were nominated by Squadron Leader Mark Dunlop for their heroism.

They were called out after a firefighter was overcome by heat and smoke in the forest fire near Treherbert, South Wales.

Using a thermal imaging camera, the crew located the casualty, who was on a steep hillside with a team of firemen.

Flames reaching five metres in height were only 20 metres away and large areas of burning trees with flames up to 15 metres high surrounded the area, stretching up to half a mile in all directions.

Visibility was limited by the thick smoke that billowed across the scene, while the brilliance of the flames made the crew's night vision goggles totally ineffective.

However the crew managed to find a way through and one of the members was winched down to rescue the casualty.

Only 15 minutes later the aircraft landed at Merthyr Tydfil hospital. The crew were hot and dehydrated after completing a rescue in the middle of an inferno.

The crew won the South West regional heat of the Vodafone Life Savers Awards last Monday.

They will join the other 23 Regional Winners on September 17 to go before the National Judging Panel, which includes Gulf War veteran John Nichol, TV personality Nell McAndrew and actor Martin Kemp.

martin.croucher@archant.co.uk

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