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Officer commended for rescuing woman from river

A firearms officer who rescued a woman from a freezing cold river has been recognised for his bravery.

On the morning of Monday 21 January 2019, PC James Simpkin was one of the first on the scene after reports came into police that a woman had jumped into the River Irwell in Manchester City Centre.

The woman – who had leapt 15 feet into the water in 3 degrees celsius weather – was swept by the current under a ledge making it hard for officers to reach her.

A rescue line was thrown to her but due to her distress at the time and the shock of the cold water, it was clear she was struggling.

Knowing that time was of the essence, PC Simpkin immediately removed his equipment and scaled an old metal ladder fixed to a wall in a bid to reach her.

He managed to grab hold of her and pull her out of the water and onto the ladder.

He then held her against the ladder for around 10 minutes to stop her from slipping back into the river while he waited for further help to arrive.

When the fire service arrived, it took several firefighters with specialist equipment to pull the woman to safety.

PC Simpkin received a Chief Constable’s Commendation at an awards ceremony on 25 March 2019 at Hough End. He was presented with the achievement by Deputy Chief Constable Ian Pilling.

Sergeant Jon Kenna, from GMP’s City of Manchester division and who also attended the incident, said: “All officers showed great dedication in trying to rescue the woman on that cold morning.

“Paramedics who treated her at the scene explained that she could have easily fallen unconscious and drowned because of the freezing temperature of the water.

“PC Simpkin put himself in danger to save her life and the commendation he has received is undoubtedly well deserved.

“Thanks to his brave and selfless actions, and the help of other officers, the woman is alive and receiving the support she needs.”

© Greater Manchester Police 2019