skip to content

Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service - Preventing, Protecting, Responding

Crews receive commendation after incident at Alton Towers

10/09/2015

The crews and casualties with Chief Fire Officer Peter Dartford at the commendation event
The crews and casualties with Chief Fire Officer Peter Dartford at the commendation event

Firefighters who rescued casualties trapped on The Smiler ride following an incident at Alton Towers have received a Chief Fire Officer’s certificate of commendation.

"As Chief Fire Officer I am extremely proud of the professionalism and sensitivity that our firefighters showed throughout the entire rescue operation and in the aftermath the incident. I can’t think of a more deserving team of people to be awarded a certificate of commendation."

Chief Fire Officer Peter Dartford

Chief Fire Officer Peter Dartford presented the accolade to 25 firefighters last night. The crews were from Leek, Stafford, Sandyford, Cheadle, Ipstones, Longton and Hanley and the officers were from Service Headquarters.

They were joined by the victims and their families who had travelled to Sandyford Community Fire Station to attend the ceremony.

The certificate is the highest commendation award by the Chief Fire Officer and is given to people who have placed their lives at reasonable risk whilst saving others or whose actions have saved lives.

The crews were recognised for their professionalism while dealing with the complex rescue operation at the theme park on June 2.

Two carriages had collided on the ride - one was empty while there were 16 guests on the other. The carriages were suspended within a dip at a 45 degree angle, approximately eight metres from the ground.

There were four serious casualties located at the front of the ride and a further 12 passengers in the rows behind.

Due to the nature of the passengers’ injuries and the challenges caused by the ride’s position, crews worked tirelessly for around four and a half hours to complete the operation.

Chief Fire Officer Peter Dartford said: "The crews that dealt with the incident at Alton Towers did an absolutely amazing job in incredibly challenging circumstances. Their priority was to safely release the casualties as quickly as possible without adding to their injuries. The firefighters worked closely with colleagues from Alton Towers and West Midlands Ambulance Service to achieve this aim.

"As Chief Fire Officer I am extremely proud of the professionalism and sensitivity that our firefighters showed throughout the entire rescue operation and in the aftermath the incident. I can’t think of a more deserving team of people to be awarded a certificate of commendation."

Cheadle firefighter Helen Green, who was part of the rescue operation, said: "I was so surprised when I was told that we were all going to receive a commendation from the Chief Fire Officer. It is a real honour and it has been lovely to see the casualties again and to know that they are all doing so well. The Alton Towers’ incident is one that will remain in all of our memories for a very long time, not only for the fact that it was such a complex rescue operation but also for the bravery and courage that Leah, Vicky, Joe and Daniel demonstrated during the incident itself and in the months that have followed."

Twenty-seven year old Daniel Thorpe, who was rescued from The Smiler, added: "I’m really pleased that all of the firefighters that helped to release us from the ride have received this award. They were extremely professional throughout the rescue and even their presence was a huge comfort during a traumatic time. They have been really helpful following the incident, filling in the gaps about things that we don’t remember. Having a clearer picture of the events has made it a lot easier to cope with. I can’t thank them enough for everything they have done."

Leah Washington, aged 18 who was also a casualty, said: "The crews have been amazing, they were really caring at the time and also visited me in hospital afterwards which was lovely of them. They have talked me through what happened and what they did which was really helpful. I was really happy when I heard that they were going to be honoured for what they did to help us, they really deserve the award."