Northamptonshire firefighters have been presented with an award for their roles in dealing with the aftermath of a collision in which eight people died.
Chief Fire Officer Jason Thelwell, from Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service (BFRS), visited the county this week to make the presentation to Red Watch Mereway crew members and Group Manager Barry Mullan who formed the Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) attendance on the day of the crash.
The three-vehicle collision, which involved two lorries and a minibus, happened shortly before 3.15am on Saturday, August 26, 2017, close to Newport Pagnell, near junction 14 of the M1. Eight people died in the incident and a further four were seriously injured.
Thames Valley Police, Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service and Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service were among the multiple different services to assist at the tragic scene.
Chief Fire Officer Thelwell said: “This was one of the most harrowing events and was described by the trial judge as the most serious collision in the UK for 26 years. The actions carried out by the fire and rescue staff on the day were exemplary. The crews witnessed and worked in extreme conditions and I salute them all for their dedication.”
GM Mullan said: “This was a very challenging and distressing scene. Looking back, Red Watch Mereway crew and I were proud to be part of the larger emergency response from Fire, Police and medical services. Between us all we saved the lives of four people and provided as much dignity and respect to those who died as possible. That is recognition enough.”
In addition to the commendation from Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, NFRS Chief Fire Officer Darren Dovey also used the opportunity to present a commendation to the crew on behalf of the High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire. This was originally presented to the service recently at an event at Aylesbury Crown Court.
CFO Dovey said: “Sadly our firefighters at NFRS attend road traffic collisions regularly so it is very much part of our usual work, but this collision on the M1 was among the most serious we have ever encountered.
“All of the NFRS staff who attended this incident deserve this commendation, which recognises the teamwork that went into carrying out a harrowing, seven hour rescue operation.
“We always hope never to have to encounter this type of scene, but I am so proud that, even in the most demanding circumstances, our crews carried out their professional duties with such a high level of calm, dedication and compassion.
“Our hearts go out to all those who lost loved ones and family members in the collision that day.”