An off-duty fireman has been hailed a hero after talking down a man who was threatening to jump from Wearmouth Bridge this morning.
Simon Forster, 28, a firefighter at South Shields Community Fire Station and lives in the South Tyneside town, is a keen cyclist and was out on a two-hour training exercise at about 6.30am when he spotted the man on the wrong side of bridge near Sunderland city centre.
I was just pleased to be in the right place at the right time and to be able to gain his confidence to come back over the railing.Simon Forster
Simon stopped and immediately went over to talk to the distressed man.
Simon, who has been a firefighter with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) for five years, explained: “He was very upset and was standing on the other side of the handrail looking down over the edge of the bridge.
“I didn’t want to make things worse by asking him what was wrong, so I just started chatting to him.
“I told him I was a firefighter and talked about what a nice sunny morning it was and tried to find out a bit about him.
“I was just pleased to be in the right place at the right time and to be able to gain his confidence to come back over the railing.”
TWFRS’s control room received a call to attend the incident from Northumbria Police at 6.50am on Wednesday after Simon asked a passer-by who offered his help to call them.
A crew from Sunderland Central Community Fire Station was despatched, along with rope rescue and swiftwater crews from South Shields and Hebburn.
However, when they arrived the situation had been resolved thanks to Simon’s quick-thinking actions.
The distressed man was treated at the scene by paramedics before being taken into police custody.
Assistant chief fire officer at TWFRS, Chris Lowther, said: “Simon did a great job in convincing this man not to jump and potentially saved his life.
“I would like to praise him for his actions and to say how proud we are of him.
“What he did is typical of the dedication of our firefighters and he is a credit to the service.”