Lt Christopher Peacock is to receive the highest level of bravery award from the care charity, the Order of St John, for saving the life of a young traffic accident victim in a blazing car.
He will be presented with the Order’s Gold Life Saving Medal at a ceremony at Edinburgh Castle next month. The award is made for conspicuous acts of bravery in which the recipient ‘endangered his or her own life’.
Christopher was driving on a country road at Blackwood last year when he came across the accident. A car had hit a lorry, which was pulling off a busy main road at high speed. He stopped and got out. The lorry driver also left his cab and told him that the car driver looked to be badly injured.
“I went to the car and it was pretty clear that the young lad who was driving was badly hurt. He was conscious, but seemed really confused. At that point the car was smoking and starting to burn. I just thought I had to get him out. It’s just as well I did, because I had hardly got him on to the side of the road when it went up in flames.
I had a little bit of first aid training when I joined the ACF as a youngster and that was updated when I went back as an adult, but there wasn’t much I could do because of the extent of the injuries. I was very glad when the ambulance and other emergency services arrived.”
The paramedic crew of the Scottish Ambulance Service at Hamilton said that when they arrived Christopher was taking charge and with the lorry driver had pulled the injured man from the blazing vehicle.
They described the 19 year-old patient as having a number of significant injuries, including cuts and burns to his arms and face, bruising on his chest and face from the airbag, a significant pelvic injury, and slow and restricted breathing — consistent with inhalation burns.
In addition he had an autism spectrum disorder that made it difficult to question him and he appeared vague and slow. Fortunately, his mother, who was travelling along the same road, arrived at the scene and was able to tell them what was usual in terms of how he communicated.
The Commandant said:
“The ambulance crew were asked to summarise what they thought of Mr Peacock’s actions. They said that the patient was seriously unwell, and that had he not been pulled from the car there was no doubt that he would have died.
I have no doubt that Lt Peacock, who admits that he is not a ‘first aid guru’, acted bravely and with the best intention of saving a patient’s life.
His prompt actions in recognising the imminent danger to the patient, the presence of fire and smoke, the risk of explosion and the risk of further collision on a fast road, were taken into account but were ignored when he assessed that to leave the patient in the car would result in his death — the patient was being burned by flames at the time. The car was described as a melted shell shortly afterwards.
Lt Peacock acted with immense compassion for a fellow human being and with courage and determination in what must have been a stressful, frightening and fast moving situation that required immediate actions.”
Christopher will receive his medal from the Prior of St John Scotland, Major General Mark Strudwick, the former General Officer Commanding the Army in Scotland, at a ceremony next month.