Bravery award 2017 winner
Gary Slack and Billy Connor are on-call firefighters at Tenby Station with 3 years service.
On 7 August 2016, whilst performing community PR activities at Tenby Harbour, they were part of a crew that were alerted to swimmers in difficulty at Castle Beach.
On reaching the beach with their watch manager, they saw 2 children, a brother and a sister aged 13 and 14, in obvious difficulty about 100m from the shore, in an area where rip tides are commonplace.
With the fire engine approximately 1/4 of a mile away, the remainder of the crew raced to get the necessary equipment. The children were becoming increasingly tired, swimming against a strong current and swell conditions, and were beginning to disappear beneath the water, at increased risk of drowning.
Given the time it would take for the crew to return with the equipment, and that both mother and father were about to enter the water in an attempt to save their children, the decision was taken by their watch manager (based upon their open water swimming experience) that they enter the water and undertake a rescue swim.
Billy swam to the boy and brought him to safety while Gary swam out to the girl and kept her afloat whilst trying to bring her back to shore. However, the sea conditions proved difficult and Billy returned to assist in recovering the girl to the beach.
There the children were both treated by Fire Service personnel who gave first aid until an ambulance arrived. Both were successfully rescued and were taken to hospital with concerns of secondary drowning.
Gary and Billy were praised by the RNLI, whose own lifeboat based at Tenby was attending another rescue 12 miles from Tenby on the day, and said that had both firefighters not intervened, the outcome would have likely been fatal.