Great-grandmother rescued from flames by quick-thinking passer-by

A young man who saved the life of a great-grandmother when he pulled her from a burning building has been praised by her family.

Wednesday, 15th March 2017, 12:14 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:52 am
Pamela, shown in a old photograph, was rescued from toxic smoke by a passer-by

Retired care worker Pamela McColm, 78, who suffers from dementia, was in her flat in Surrey Street in Worthing when toxic smoke began to fill her kitchen.

Some material had caught fire by the hob shortly before 9am on Saturday, February 28, the fire service said.

Fortunately, she had a smoke alarm which alerted nearby Derren Wimbleton, 24, who found Pamela still trying to put out the fire.

The fire occurred in Surrey Street in Worthing. Picture: Google Maps/Google Streetview

“If he had not noticed I do not know how long she would have been in there,” said Steve Robinson, incident commander for Worthing Fire Station that day.

“If it had gone on much longer she would have collapsed and suffocated.”

He pulled her out of the flat and dialled 999.

“Potentially he saved her life, he increased her chances of survival massively,” Mr Robinson said.

The fire occurred in Surrey Street in Worthing. Picture: Google Maps/Google Streetview

Fire crews arrived with breathing apparatus soon afterwards to put out the fire, and Mrs McColm was taken to Worthing Hospital in an ambulance, where she was later discharged to Tenby House care home to recover fully, said her son Michael Leppard, who lives nearby.

“She was obviously a bit confused at that moment,” Michael said

“I just want to say thanks to Derren for pulling my mum out. You never know what could have happened.”

Pamela worked in care homes for many years. She has two grandchildren, one of whom is in the Army, and a great-grandchild.

Michael thanked Worthing Hospital and social services for making his mother feel safe: “The hospital and Tenby house were brilliant.

“All of these people have gone over and above.”

Smoke alarms can be fitted for free by the fire service and Pamela’s ‘probably did save her life’, Mr Robinson said.

The incident commander said people should generally not enter burning buildings under any circumstances, but added: “Thanks to him she was rescued but obviously do be careful.

“I think he was a sensible young lad and he knew it was doable.

“What he did was commendable.”