Two heroic PSNI officers who risked being blown up or burned alive in their fight to save an unconscious woman trapped in a blazing car after a horror crash in Enniskillen are to receive one of the highest national bravery awards.
Constables Maguire and McMeekin from Fermanagh and Omagh Policing District have been awarded Royal Humane Society Bronze Medals for their courageous fight to save the Londonderry woman in the aftermath of the crash.
It happened in the Windmill Heights area of Enniskillen shortly after midnight on February 7 this year.
The medals, which have been personally approved by Princess Alexandra, President of the Royal Humane Society, are only awarded for acts of extreme bravery.
The only higher awards than these are the Society's Silver Medal, very few of which are awarded, and Gold Medal, only one of which is awarded each year.
Constables Maguire and McMeekin had responded to an emergency call and when they arrived they found the crashed car ablaze with intense smoke and flames coming from its engine compartment. The vehicle was likely to become completely engulfed in flames and explode at any moment.
Despite this, the two officers, who could see an unconscious woman trapped in the front seat, ignored the danger to themselves, managed to open the car and pull her out.
She was admitted to hospital with serious injuries and suffering from smoke inhalation but survived.
Constables Maguire and McMeekin were also checked over by doctors but did not need any treatment.
Heaping praise on them as he announced the awards at the Royal Humane Society's London headquarters, its secretary Andrew Chapman said: "Very few bronze medals are awarded by us. They are only awarded in cases of extreme bravery.
"And extreme bravery is exactly what these two officers showed. They ran the risk of being burned to death or blown up but didn't hesitate to go to the aid of the woman in the car despite this. They were true heroes and richly deserve the medals they are to receive. They are among the bravest of the brave."
No date has yet been fixed for the presentation of the awards.
The roots of the Royal Humane Society stretch back more than two centuries. The Queen is its patron and its president is Princess Alexandra. It is the premier national body for honouring bravery in the saving of human life.
It was founded in 1774 by two of the day's eminent medical men, William Hawes and Thomas Cogan.
Their primary motive was to promote techniques of resuscitation. However, as it emerged that numerous people were prepared to put their own lives at risk to save others, the awards scheme evolved, and today a variety of awards are made depending on the bravery involved.
The Society also awards non-health care professionals who perform a successful resuscitation.
Since it was set up the Society has considered over 88,000 cases and made over 200,000 awards.