Belfast Telegraph

Top honour for policeman who saved woman from icy waters

By Allan Preston

A constable from Belfast Harbour Police who rescued a visiting ice hockey fan from the freezing waters of Belfast Lough has been honoured for his bravery.

In January, Constable Scott Harkins swam to the aid of a semi-conscious Sheffield Steelers fan after she fell into the Belfast Harbour Marina.

A PSNI officer had arrived on the scene first and was soon assisted by Constable Harkins.

Despite the freezing temperatures he swam 15 metres to bring the visitor safely back to the quayside where she was soon transferred to the Ulster Hospital.

He has now received the Belfast Harbour Police Medal - the body's highest possible honour for gallantry - which is awarded for exceptional bravery and courage in the line of duty.

The father-of-two from Bangor also volunteers with the Bangor Lifeboat Crew and has expert training in recovering people from the water.

Receiving his gallantry medal at a special meeting of the board of Belfast Harbour, he said: "I am deeply honoured to have received the Belfast Harbour Police Medal for Gallantry. The award ceremony at Belfast Harbour Office will live long in the memory of my family who attended.

"This rescue was a joint effort with my colleagues in the PSNI and NI Ambulance Service, NI Fire and Rescue, and Lagan Search and Rescue. I'd like to thank them for ensuring that this didn't turn into a tragedy.

"Although I went into the water at Abercorn Basin, I did so wearing a lifejacket and had received specialist training.

"If any member of the public should find themselves in a similar situation, they should contact the emergency services first and throw a life ring to those who are in distress in the water.

"They should not enter the water themselves without the benefit of specialist training and life-saving equipment."

Adding his congratulations, Belfast Harbour chairman David Dobbin said: "Constable Harkins showed tremendous bravery in entering cold water with undercurrents and rescuing this woman.

"He brought her to safety and assisted in her care until other emergency services arrived. Scott himself had to be treated for hypothermia."

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