An officer who jumped into a river to rescue a woman in distress has been nominated for the National Bravery Awards 2023.
In the morning on June 23 2022, just before he was to go off duty, PC Paul Odd attended to a call informing about a distressed woman at the quayside in King’s Lynn, next to the Great River Ouse leading into the sea along the Norfolk coastline (The Wash).
PC Odd had attended a similar situation a fortnight ago. After rescuing the woman, she was transferred under the care of mental health professionals.
As both incidents exhibited similarities, PC Odd first sought help of CCTV footage and identified the same woman. He also located the spot where she was seen entering the water and reached there. Two other officers, PS Watson and PC Parker, also rushed to assist the situation.
While PS Watson took control of the scene setting up a cordon, PC Odd secured the nearest lifebuoy and threw at the woman. PC Parker also collected a lifebuoy and maintained watch on the woman from a close distance. However, PC Odd’s attempts to persuade the woman to grab the lifebuoy and protect herself were unsuccessful as she made no attempt to save herself. Soon she started drifting down the river into The Wash while slipping underneath the water and, unfortunately, the current caused her to hit her head against the metalwork of the pontoon where she was then pushed up against the bow of a moored commercial fishing boat.
With the situation becoming extremely precarious, PC Odd tied himself to the end of a second lifebuoy and lowered into the pontoon stairs and proceeded to enter the river. He swam over to the woman and secured her. PS Watson and PC Parker had by then reached the pontoon and pulled out the woman and PC Odd while ensuring the woman’s safety until arrival of other agencies.
Reflecting on the incident and PC Odd’s bravery, Chair of Norfolk Police Federation, Andy Symonds, said: “What incredible work from PC Paul Odd. We are so proud of him as well as PS Watson and PC Parker who supported PC Odd and enabled him to save the woman. Without these two colleagues it would have proven extremely difficult to save the woman.
“His calm professionalism and quick thinking meant he was able to save the woman from drowning. He is the best of the police service and rightly deserves his day in the limelight.
“This bravery goes on pretty much every single day up and down the country and here in Norfolk. It is right that we shine a light on these selfless acts of bravery to highlight to the communities we serve that they have the most brave, selfless, and professional police officers in the world.
“Paul entered these dangerous waters not knowing if he would return home safe. These are the men and women doing these extraordinary things without any expectation of praise or acknowledgement every single day. Many more brave acts go unrecognised, so it’s vital we do as much as we can to highlight the work of our dedicated and brave police officers.”
Undoubtedly, without PC Odd’s timely and heroic intervention the incident most likely would have ended in a tragedy.
Lauding the efforts of the officers, Chief Constable Paul Sanford said: “As police officers we are always faced with a variety of challenges and exceptional policing happens every day, on every shift, across every district and department in Norfolk but we don't often get the opportunity to highlight it.
“PC Odd’s dedication and the professionalism of his colleagues Sgt Watson and PC Parker clearly demonstrates in the best way possible that we will do what we can, where we can, to help our communities in their time of need.
“I am proud of their actions on that day and delighted that it is being recognised.”
Recalling the incident, PC Odd said: “In an ideal world I would not have entered the water. But I was happy to go in even though I knew it was dangerous for both of us because had I not gone in it is unlikely that the woman would have survived.”