Firefighter Greg Rostern, a member of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service’s (GMFRS) Technical Response Unit, was presented with a Certificate of Outstanding Performance during a ceremony at Ashton Fire Station.
On September 18, 2014, Greg and his colleagues on Blue Watch were called to the Big Wheel in Piccadilly Gardens. The crew found a man clinging to the leg of the wheel 30 metres above the ground and FF Rostern was tasked with climbing up to try and rescue him. After 30 minutes of slow climbing FF Rostern reached the man, who was extremely drunk and abusive towards him.
Despite the obvious danger, FF Rostern was unwavering in his duty and managed to attach a rescue harness to the man and secure him to the structure. He then had to spend 60 minutes secured to the Big Wheel with the casualty man, while his colleagues set up a rescue system. Once a suitable line rescue system was set up Firefighter Rostern then had to persuade the man, who was by this time extremely afraid, to be lowered to the ground.
Speaking at the ceremony FF Rostern said: “We got a call to say that someone was on the Big Wheel in Manchester. I was told to get a harness on, get up there to keep the man safe and stop him from jumping. I started to climb but the man was in no mind to even let me get on the wheel.
"It was small steps getting up to him, but he was in an area which wasn’t easy to climb to and he wouldn’t have been able to get down normally. He was intent on jumping, but I managed to talk him round. I said ‘you can’t jump until you’ve said goodbye to your family’. He told me he had a mum and a brother and I said let me come up I’ll get their phone numbers and we can ring them up and you can speak to them.
"I got him in a harness and told him it was just while he spoke to his family to keep us both safe and sent the numbers down though the radio, but obviously the phone call never came. I hooked him up to the system we created and he was down before he knew it."
FF Rostern previously received the County Fire Officer’s Commendation in 2002 for rescuing three of his neighbours from a severe house fire whilst off duty.
GMFRS Deputy County Fire Officer, Jim Owen, presented Greg with his Certificate of Outstanding Performance and said: "It’s a tremendous achievement – we don’t give these out like confetti. There are few who receive them and even fewer who receive two like Greg.
"Greg’s skill, professionalism and patience was central to the success of this rescue. His actions along with the actions of his colleagues from Blue Watch saved the man’s life and spared the public from witnessing a tragic incident in the centre of Manchester."