Derbs - burning flat rescue

Derbyshire PC Caroline Holt

PC Caroline Holt

A Derbyshire police officer who dragged a woman out of a burning flat has been nominated for a national Police Bravery Award.

PC Caroline Holt and her colleague, PC Handley Farrell volunteered to go to an address where it was believed a woman who had called police threatening to kill herself was. When they arrived, they saw smoke coming from the upstairs room and the female occupant at the window – but refusing to engage with the officers.

The building appeared to be a semi-detached house, but when they tried to enter it, the pair realised it was two flats. The officers continued to try and force the door to get access to the first-floor flat, but with no joy – and further support some distance away – they decided to smash the windows next to the door, leaving a restricted entry that only PC Holt could access.

She then climbed through the window and found the woman at the top of the stairs, refusing to move. PC Holt climbed the stairs and dragged her down, away from the fire.  The occupant would not exit through the window, so PC Holt then had to return upstairs to the area of the fire to retrieve the keys, ensuring the safe rescue of the occupant and the others living in the flats.

Her actions were all the more brave given that just a couple weeks earlier the shift had attended a fire where a forced window had led to a backdraft which resulted in a fatality – and when she returned upstairs to find the keys, she was not aware of the extent of the fire and the danger.

Chief Superintendent Jim Allen said: “This is typical of Caroline - committed, selfless, determined and brave. This instance is the epitome of her commitment to policing and the community of Derbyshire.

“Alone and with no regard for her own safety, she entered a perilous situation to rescue a woman from a fire. The woman didn’t want to be rescued and had to be bodily dragged from the premises, downstairs, by Caroline, all the while knowing that the fire was getting more and more serious.

“Without Caroline’s intervention the woman would have died.”

Mark Pickard, Chairman, Derbyshire Police Federation said:  “PC Holt’s actions were that of sheer grit and determination.  Knowing the extent of the danger they were both in, PC Holt went back upstairs to the fire to pacify the woman who was non-compliant, in order to get her to safety.  This was incredibly selfless and brave, well deserving of a national Police Bravery Award.”

Main page - Bravery Awards