Welwyn Garden City hero prevents exploding van catastrophe
PUBLISHED: 16:00 28 May 2018 | UPDATED: 12:19 29 May 2018
London Ambulance Service
A Welwyn Garden City ambulance worker has received an award for her dashing actions to prevent catastrophe from an exploding van.
Paramdeic Emma Gearing received a major award from the London Ambulance Service on Tuesday after her quick thinking and bravery prevented a potentially disastrous accident.
Emma, 35, was en route to an emergency call on the A1 near the Barnet by-pass on February 7 with her crew mate Roy Handley, when a panicked driver flagged their ambulance down.
His van, which was transporting gas cylinders, was on fire.
While Roy coordinated the response of the control room and sent another ambulance to their emergency call, Welwyn Garden City resident Emma grabbed the ambulance fire extinguisher and approached the burning van to remove all the cylinders.
“I honestly don’t know what went through my head, it happened so rapidly really,” she told the Welwyn Hatfield Times. “Training kicks in, so I was thinking more ‘bigger picture’.”
By keeping a cool head she realised that after removing the cylinders from the burning van, there was also potential for crashes with other vehicles.
“My mind then went to the road, you could hear the fire progressing rapidly.
“I didn’t particularly want an RTC next to a fire!”
She led the driver to a place of safety, and then maneuvred the ambulance to block all three lanes of the road to protect oncoming traffic.
Only then did the van produce explosions, sending burning debris across all three lanes - but safely away from the gas cylinders that Emma had removed.
Emma told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “I’m just really grateful I was there to do something about it and prevent something serious from happening.”
She emphasised Roy’s role in preventing disaster. “It’s a team effort,” she insisted, saying that trumpeting her achievements is “very not me”.
Emma’s exceptional bravery was rewarded on Tuesday, May 22 at the annual London Ambulance Service VIP award evening, when CEO Garrett Emmerson gave her the Chief Executive Commendation award - one of only a few awarded each year.
“I feel quite honoured and humbled to be honest,” said Emma. “It’s a really nice feeling for me.
“A thank you is payment on its own.
“It really is nice to have that recognition.
“Every day is different in the ambulance service, and that’s why it’s such a fabulous career.”