A POLICE officer who was able to safe the life of a young man after a serious car crash has been recognised for his bravery.

PC Phil Balcomb has won an Essex Police Federation Bravery Award after being labelled a “lifesaver” by his peers.

PC Balcomb was off-duty at the time of the incident February 2019 and was running a few errands when he noticed a Ford Ka driving erratically on the carriageway in Great Bardfield.

He was shocked as the car hit the verge before careering over to the other side of the road, where it struck an oncoming Nissan Qashqai.

The smash was so severe it completely tore off the front end of the Ka and had crushed the near side door so severely it was positioned against the handbrake in the car’s central panel.

As PC Balcomb rushed to the scene, he could see the driver and the passenger in the Qashqai were shocked but unhurt, so turned his attention to the driver of the Ka as a fellow road user called for assistance.

The driver was non-responsive, wasn’t breathing and was bleeding heavily from a gash on his forehead.

The officer tried to get to him by removing the front door, but it wasn’t budging, so instead, he ripped off the mangled boot of the car so he could get to the driver and administer emergency first aid.

As the driver couldn’t be roused, PC Balcomb weighed up the risks associated with moving him to try and get him to breathe.

The driver’s head was tilted forward, and by massaging his throat, PC Balcomb managed to get the man to take a breath.

The officer held the driver’s head in this right hand and carried on helping the man to breathe with his left hand before the driver who had rung 999 returned.

He was having difficulties giving the call handler the right directions, so PC Balcomb had to take over and requested fire and ambulance crews attended.

Matters were made worse when, as PC Balcomb tried to talk to the man, he could see the car engine had begun smoking.

Another road user had pulled up in a 4X4 and managed to disconnect the battery before giving the officer a knife so he could cut the driver free from his seatbelt before emergency support arrived.

PC Balcomb said: “The fire commander and the traffic sergeant said I’d pretty much saved his life… it was all quite mad.

“It was all meant to be - because the air ambulance was nearby, and they were double-crewed doing a training exercise.

“So the driver was one very, very lucky man considering all his injuries.

“I met his mum at the scene and tried to calm her down. We’re friends now, and they run a pub, so free beers for life!”

PC Balcomb added: “It’s nice to be recognised in the Essex Police Federation Bravery Awards.

“There are loads of things we do every day across the force, on or off-duty, and there are many people who have done amazing things. It’s just nice to be included in that and recognised for it.”

Essex Police Federation Chair Laura Heggie said there was no doubt that PC Balcomb had saved the young driver’s life – and had done so at risk to himself.

“The young man was very lucky that Phil happened to be in the area and could use his experience and professionalism to quickly get a grip of the situation.

“He’s a hero and a lifesaver who showed the incredible presence of mind to do the right thing in a highly stressful situation.

“It goes to show how our police officers are never off duty. And that we will run towards danger to keep people safe. And indeed that we do much more than fight crime.”

PC Balcomb will attend the Essex Police Federation Bravery Awards – which will combine celebrating 2020 and 2021 winners – in Essex in September.

Overall winners for both years will be announced and they will go on to compete in the National Police Bravery Awards.