Award for off-duty police officer who saved a man's life

PC Phil Balcomb of Essex Police

PC Phil Balcomb of Essex Police - Credit: Essex Police Federation

An Essex Police officer who risked his safety to stop a young driver from dying in a traffic collision in Great Bardfield has received an award.

PC Phil Balcomb was off-duty and was running a few errands when he noticed a Ford Ka driving erratically.

He looked on in horror as it hit the verge before careering over to the other side of the road, where it struck an oncoming Nissan Qashqai.

The smash tore off the front end of the Ford Ka and crushed the near side door so severely it was positioned against the handbrake in the car’s central panel.

PC Balcomb could see the driver and the passenger in the Qashqai were shocked but unhurt, so he turned his attention to the driver of the Ford Ka as a fellow road user called for urgent help.


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The driver was unresponsive, wasn’t breathing and was bleeding heavily from a gash on his forehead.

The police officer tried to remove the door, but it wasn’t budging, so he ripped off the mangled car boot to get to the driver to administer emergency first aid.

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The driver couldn’t be roused, so PC Balcomb had to weigh up the risks with moving him to try and get him to breathe.

The driver’s head was tilted forward, and by massaging his throat, PC Balcomb managed to get the man to take a breath.

The officer held the driver’s head in this right hand and carried on helping the man to breathe with his left hand.

The driver who had called 999 was having difficulties giving the call handler the right directions, so PC Balcomb took over and requested fire and ambulance crews attend.

He then spotted the car engine had started emitting smoke.

A 4X4 driver pulled up and disconnected the battery of the injured man's vehicle, before giving the officer a knife to cut the driver free from his seatbelt.

PC Balcomb said: “The fire commander and the traffic sergeant said I’d pretty much saved his life… it was all quite mad.

“It was all meant to be - because the air ambulance was nearby, and they were double-crewed doing a training exercise.

“So the driver was one very, very lucky man considering all his injuries.

“I met his mum at the scene and tried to calm her down. We’re friends now, and they run a pub, so free beers for life!”

As a result of his actions in February 2019, this month PC Balcomb has won an Essex Police Federation Bravery Award.

PC Balcomb added. “There are loads of things we do every day across the force, on or off-duty, and there are many people who have done amazing things. It’s just nice to be included in that and recognised for it.”

Essex Police Federation Chair Laura Heggie said: “The young man was very lucky that Phil happened to be in the area and could use his experience and professionalism to quickly get a grip of the situation.

!He’s a hero and a lifesaver who showed the incredible presence of mind to do the right thing in a highly stressful situation.”

PC Balcomb will attend the Essex Police Federation Bravery Awards – which will combine celebrating 2020 and 2021 winners.

Overall winners for both years will be announced and they will go on to compete in the National Police Bravery Awards.


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