Fireman praises strangers who stopped to help after car crash

Phil Berry, head of the Norfolk Fire Service Urban Search and Rescue, who was involved in a crash an

Phil Berry, head of the Norfolk Fire Service Urban Search and Rescue, who was involved in a crash and has praised the emergency services and passers by. - Credit: Nick Butcher

As part of Norfolk’s Urban Search and Rescue Team, Phil Berry has seen more than his fair share of emergency situations.

But he found himself on the other side when he was involved in a car crash which left him with a broken back and was rushed to hospital.

Now on the road to recovery, Mr Berry, who lives in Thwaite St Mary, has praised the strangers who stopped to help until the emergency services arrived.

On the afternoon of October 21, he was involved in a multiple car crash on the A146 at Framingham Pigot, and passers by quickly stopped to help.

“I was aware three gentlemen stopped and stayed with me until the emergency services arrived,” he said. “They offered me support and that was fantastic.

“I don’t know who they are, but I would like to thank them.”

He said one of the men was a first aider who had been at nearby Highway Garden and Leisure and came over to see if he could help in any way.

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“Members of the public reacted instinctively to help and that’s really good community spirit,” he said. “People were making sure the traffic was flowing past, there were a lot of people contributing at the scene.”

Mr Berry, who is based in Dereham, said people’s reactions were particularly extraordinary as motorists who saw the crash had neither the training, nor the time to prepare that the emergency services get.

“When you’re mobilised to an incident you have some start-up time, where you’re preparing yourself mentally for what you’re likely to encounter when you arrive.

“Although no matter how many times you go to incidents, there’s never one the same, you expect to see something but it can all change.

“But if you just come across and react, the more information you can pass on the better prepared emergency services can be.

“What we had was people that were driving along, and suddenly see an incident and stop in order to help and there’s no time for them to absorb the information and they’re trying to make it better.

“It’s a dangerous environment to be in while you’re trying to help. My hat goes off to the people that just stop. It’s a fantastic thing to do.”

As soon as the emergency services arrived, Mr Berry said he felt relieved. In his role with the Urban Search and Rescue team, he is used to dealing with confined spaces, rescues from height, flooding and collapsed buildings.

And he had complete faith in the crews he is more used to working with than being treated by.

“I train and work with these guys, I see them operating and I had every confidence that once they turned up things would start to get better,” he said.

And Mr Berry, 50, said he hopes people will drive carefully to avoid more crashes over Christmas.

“We’re going through a really mild spell and we haven’t got ice on the road but I would just ask people to drive safelty, don’t answer your mobile phone and don’t be distracted - it’s not worth it.”