“In all my years as a frontline police officer, this is the first time I have actually looked back and reflected that we could have all died or been seriously injured that night."

Those are the words of Sergeant James Greehy of Thames Valley Police, having been awarded alongside eight other officers for his response to a caravan fire in Cranbourne.

In the early hours of January 2, 2021, a member of the public reported to police that a caravan was on fire and had exploded at Cranbourne Hall Park.

Nearing the end of their already exhausting 12-hour-long New Year’s Day late shift, officers dropped what they were doing and rushed to the scene.

Knowing they were likely to be the first emergency responders on scene, Sgt Greehy, who was a PC at the time, together with PC Price gave a clear and precise plan for the team, setting out roles and responsibilities.

Approaching the scene, the sky turned to a glow of orange with flames rising high into the air as residents stood bewildered.

Officers arriving on the scene gave instructions to residents to clear them back away from the fire.

Sgt Moore quickly saw a victim sat in the middle of the road just a few metres away from the fire, which had encompassed the entire caravan and was spreading to a neighbouring van.

Despite the fire raging and spreading out of control, Sgt Moore ran straight past the blaze to reach the victim, followed quickly by PCs Price and Spear, all putting themselves in harm’s way to carry him to safety.

Other officers and firefighters, who had arrived on scene at this point, continued giving first aid while evacuating the residents around them.

By this point, the fire was rapidly growing, spreading across other properties and engulfing the road.

Sgt Greehy and another PC arrived along with the first ambulance at the entrance to the caravan site. They immediately grabbed various medical packs and equipment and sprinted towards the blaze, paramedics in tow.

Knowing their colleagues were on the other side of a wall of fire and in need of urgent medical help, without hesitation they ran through the fire to get the medical equipment and paramedics to the casualty.

They began formulating an evacuation plan, knowing they were cut off and the only way back to the ambulance would be to travel the entire way around the perimeter of the site.

They began fashioning a makeshift stretcher out of a board and limb restraints.

In the meantime, on the opposite side of the fire, PCs Brewster and Screen were banging on the doors and windows of properties within the 200-metre evacuation zone that was being established.

However, there was then a huge secondary explosion from the fire, caused by a 25-litre propane gas cylinder inside the caravan.

The blast sent an enormous fireball in excess of 50 metres into the sky, knocked several of the officers who were with the victim to the floor, and caused debris to cascade down in all directions, some of which nearly hit PCs Brewster and Screen, which would have almost certainly killed them.

Sgts Greehy and Moore, PCs Price and Clifton, and firefighters, who were with the original victim, grabbed the stretcher and began moving the victim, all the time shouting for residents to evacuate the site.

PC Spear and another PC cleared the way for the stretcher while carrying the medical equipment and had to contend with an obstructive and abusive resident who refused to move.

They all continued to carry the victim an agonising 550 metres around the caravan site, so they could safely reach the ambulance.

Once at the ambulance, they were able to hand the victim over into suitable care.

The officers gathered themselves together as a team, checked themselves for any injuries and then ran straight back towards the fire to continue evacuating residents.

They worked tirelessly until the fire was brought under control and they could hand over established cordon points to attending night-turn police officers.

The phenomenal actions of the officers that night not only saved the life of the victim but also undoubtedly saved the lives of many other residents.

The Thames Valley Police Chief Constable Jason Hogg recently presented commendations to Sergeants James Greehy and Alex Moore and PCs Jasmine Brewster, James Clifton, Adam Price, Peter Screen, Dominic Spear, Reece Stansbury and Rachel Walsh.

Sgt Greehy said: “We all did what we felt needed to be done to save lives."

Sgt Moore added: “This incident is one I will never forget which involved a whole team effort to bring this to a safe resolution. To be able to be commended for a small part in a much wider incident is a proud moment.”

PC Spear added: “Being that close to such a powerful fire was quite surreal. It was instinctive to protect those closest and to evacuate everyone else. A fantastic joint effort by all emergency services in attendance!”