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Special police constable praised for bravery during river rescue

By Shepton Mallet Journal  |  Posted: January 31, 2013

Special Constable Steve Cook

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A Shepton Mallet special police constable has been praised for his courage after jumping into freezing water to save a drowning man.

Volunteer policeman Steve Cook, aged 51, may now be nominated for a bravery award after saving the life of the unknown man, who had fallen into the fast flowing Frome.

Mr Cook was on patrol nearby when the call came across his radio and rushed to the river’s edge, but it was so dark and poorly lit he couldn’t see him.

Hearing faint calls for help, the special constable began to climb down the five-metre embankment towards the weakening cries, suddenly spotting the man face down in the water.

“Without time to remove my stab vest I jumped the last metre so straight into the river,” he said.

“The water was very cold but I didn’t notice at the time and waded over to him.

“I constantly called to him making sure he could hear me.

“He was totally limp and unable to help himself or me.

“His clothes were completely saturated with water and what with this and his weight made it very difficult to hold him up in this position without his help.

“I knew I had to get him out of the water as I was not sure exactly how long he had been there and that hypothermia would set in if not already.”

It took Mr Cook, who has been in the role for just ten months, two attempts to get the man onto the bank and into the recovery position.

Minutes later more police officers and paramedics arrived at the scene, near the Cheese and Grain in Frome, to help.

The man was rushed to Bath’s Royal United Hospital but was allowed home the following day.

Mr Cook denied he was a hero for his actions: “No, I was just doing my job and any other officer would have done the same.”

Enforcement team inspector Justin French, based in Wells, said: “Special Constable Cook responded to this call and quickly assessed the situation.

“He was presented with a man struggling in the water but acted instinctively with no thought for himself to rescue him.

“Working alongside his colleagues he demonstrated excellent decision making, a great deal of courage and professionalism.

“I am proud to say that he is a part of Avon and Somerset Constabulary.”

Although only a special constable for 10 months, Mr Cook has already reached the rank of section officer and paid tribute to the fantastic team of specials and regular officers with whom he works.

“I enjoy the role with a passion,” he said.

“I put as many hours into the role as possible and love the diversity and interaction it provides from all members of the public.

“It’s a great privilege to provide such a wonderful and unique service and be able to reassure the community. “Even though the role is voluntary I wouldn’t change it for the world and hope to continue for as long as I can either as a special constable or be fortunate enough to join the Avon and Somerset regular police force.”

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