Friday, 3 June 2011

Just doing his job, says Gibraltar blast hero

P.C. Jared McIntosh
GIBRALTAR (GibChronicle/Brian Reyes) Early last Tuesday, Police Constable Jared McIntosh was on duty at the cruise terminal, a routine task when a ship is in port. He assisted a cruise passenger out of a taxi and into a wheelchair. He placed a call to Scotland for an elderly couple who were struggling with a public phone inside the cruise terminal. It was run of the mill stuff, nothing out of the ordinary. Then came the bang.>
Yesterday, the 29-year old described how he rushed outside the terminal and saw a thick plume of smoke rising from a sullage tank close to the terminal.

People were running away from the tank in panic, a frantic scene. Within the chaos though, some people said there were men up there. PC McIntosh joined the Royal Gibraltar Police less than two years ago and is still on probation. But that day, he reacted like a seasoned veteran.

“I wasn’t thinking at the time,” he told the Chronicle yesterday. “I was running on adrenaline. It was instinct.”

He ran against the flow of people, toward the burning tank. Looking up, he saw two men near the top of the steep stairs that curled round the steel structure.

Without hesitating, he started to climb up until he reached them. One of the men was helping the other, who was blackened and could not walk.

“I saw him lying there on the steps, his head down,” PC McIntosh said. “He was all burnt.”

These were frantic moments. The blaze was actually in the adjacent tank, but neither PC McIntosh nor the workers realised this at the time.

As far as they were concerned, they were standing on a fuel tank that was on fire and could explode at any moment. They needed to move fast.

The injured man was heavy and difficult to manoeuvre in the tight confines of the steel staircase. They struggled at first but eventually managed to move him, slowly gaining momentum as they dragged him down the stairs.

Yesterday, in a calm tone, PC McIntosh recounted the horror of the moment.

“His face was black but he was conscious throughout the scenario and he was shouting in agony,” he said.

Somehow they managed to get the injured man to the ground, where another worker rushed in to help them drag him away from the tanks.

By the time the man was down on the ground, the City Fire brigade had arrived on the scene and took over from PC McIntosh, who proceeded to continue to help with the evacuation of the cruise terminal and the surrounding buildings.

The young policeman did not sustain any significant injuries as a result of his courageous actions. He suffered some irritation to his skin and a few scratches but, in broad terms, he was physically OK.

Emotionally though, he was drained. That night, after the events of the afternoon, he was in shock. A police welfare officer was assigned to look after him and help him come to terms with what had happened.

“I can’t believe what I did,” he said. “No one wanted to go up the stairs.”

All across the community, PC McIntosh is seen as a hero, reluctantly singled out from the many acts of bravery and determination committed by the men and women of Gibraltar’s emergency services that day.

PC McIntosh, however, sees things in different terms.

“I don’t feel like a hero,” he said. “I feel like a normal person.”

“I just did what was necessary at the time.”

“At the end of the day, we’re there to assist the public.”

Read the hero's story as it happened, with excellent photos.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

ASCTEG, Association of Spanish Workers in Gibraltar.

We are very thankful and proud to communicate our greatest feelings, in the name of Pedro Zambrana's family and all our Spanish Workers in Gibraltar to Police Constable Jared McIntosh, for having been extremely good hearted and generous at putting on extremely risks his own life, under a hell of fire and expected explosions, in order to help Paquito carry down the stairs of the tank his co-worker friend Pedro away from a sure death on top of the tank. Unfortunately Pedro died from the heavy burns after a month of treatments in a Seville Hospital. Paquito's burns and other injuries are not as bad as the psychological trauma he is suffering for all that happened during that inferno he lived, and the loss of his work mate, who was like a brother to him.
Pedro's wife Montserrat and rest of the family, in deep sorrow as they are these sad moments, will never forget Mr. Macintosh’s courageous action.
Dear Jaired: You are a nice person.
We, the workers in Gibraltar, the linenses, and Spanish people all together, add ourselves to the family's thankfulness and gratitude for what you did.., for your solidarity beyond frontiers and flags, and wish you the very best.
FOR ASCTEG, President: Salvador Molina and JJ Uceda as Gib Delegate.