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Page last updated at 18:11 GMT, Thursday, 6 January 2011
Paramedic Chris Davey wins bravery award
Chris Davey
Chris Davey was 'totally shocked' to learn he was to get a bravery award

A Derbyshire paramedic is to get a bravery award after risking his life to help others following a plane crash in South America.

Chris Davey, from West Hallam, was a passenger on a light aircraft which crashed into the jungle as it took off from an airport in Venezuela.

Fellow passengers nominated him for the award after he spent hours freeing them from the wreckage and giving first aid.

Mr Davey, 39, receives the Queen's Commendation for Bravery.

He said: "I was utterly gobsmacked when I received the letter - totally shocked. I had to collect it from an office and when I opened it the girl in there asked me if I was OK as I'd gone rather pale!"

Mr Davey and his wife Debbie, from West Hallam, were on board the plane as they ended a two-day tour at the Canaima National Park, a remote part of the Amazon jungle, in April 2009.

The accident happened less than a minute into their flight when the aircraft, with 12 passengers and crew on board, stalled and fell from the sky into the forest below.

Ripped apart

Recalling the moment, he said: "The plane did a sudden steep dive to the left - we could see it through the cockpit window - a mass of trees and bushes coming at you.

"It felt like being in some weird tumble drier!

"When we stopped, there was silence at first... then screams and bewilderment... then sudden realisation of injuries and pain."

Venezuela map
The crash happened in a remote area of the Amazon jungle

Throughout the trip, the passengers had taken it in turns to sit at the back of the aircraft. That day it was Chris and Debbie's turn - and Chris believes his own injuries were less serious as a result of his position: "I had whiplash, muscular injuries and sprained ankles - the injuries forward of us were more serious... unconscious patients, chest injuries, open fractures to legs and faces."

Chris had no medical kit and the kit on the aircraft had been destroyed in the crash.

The plane was ripped apart by the impact and there was a real danger that the spilled fuel could ignite at any moment.

But Mr Davey organised the passengers and locals to free the injured from the wreckage and deal with cuts and broken bones.

He stayed with many of the casualties as they were airlifted to hospital to make sure they were properly assessed and treated.

Park officials, Venezuela's National Guard and a group of local Pemon Indians also helped in the rescue.

He said: "Without them and their machetes we wouldn't have got people out as they fashioned some wooden crowbars out of nearby bushes."

Despite the paramedic's best endeavours a six-year-old boy died as a result of his injuries.

Mr Davey works for East Midlands Ambulance Service as a team leader with the Hazardous Area Response Team, based at Castle Donington.

He has nearly 20 years experience as a paramedic and said: "My training just snapped in.

"We normally have to deal with people in their worst possible times of crisis - 98% of my colleagues would have done the same."

He added: "I had trained for the worst possible scenarios - and that was definitely one of them."

Mr Davey will be presented with the Queen's Commendation for Bravery by the Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire, William Tucker, on 7 January 2011.


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