PC Michael Barker
The Officer who helped save a man from jumping to his likely death at a well-known suicide spot.
Picture the scene. It’s 6.30 in the morning. You’re in the Parade Room waiting to go off-duty after a night-time shift. Then a call comes in. “There’s someone on the wrong side of the bridge!” That was the situation faced by PC Michael Barker and some of his colleagues, who immediately dashed out to help.
Michael was first on the scene, and the picture wasn’t a good one. A man was clinging to the outside of the bridge – a location where police knew there had been a number of suicide jumpers – with his arms out-stretched in what Michael later described as a cross formation. It was time for Michael to use what’s often described as an officer’s best weapon – his voice – to buy some time for additional help to arrive.
For vital minutes PC Barker spoke to the person on the bridge, gaining his trust and hoping to encourage him to come inside the railings. But when the man started to ask Michael to tell his family that he loved them, the officer knew there was no time to delay. He jumped forward and grabbed the man to prevent him from making what was very likely to be a fatal jump.
It was then that he heard the voice of a colleague, who was standing below the bridge, in his radio earpiece: “Mike. Don’t let go. You’re the only thing holding him up.”
Down-playing the part he played in saving this man’s life, PC Barker explains, “Thankfully I was able to hang on, and then suddenly everyone was there. My police colleagues and fire service were helping to tie the man on, before pulling him over the barriers to safety. It was a bit crushed in there, and my radio got broken, but it all worked out in the end.”
While many people would have talked-up the drama, that’s isn’t PC Barker’s style. With characteristic modesty and humour, he describes the rest of his evening. “I was a bit dazed by it all, but I went off duty and then went to see the Stereophonics. Pretty good night one way and another! The incident was mentioned by colleagues a couple of times since, but I really wasn’t expecting to be nominated for an award. I’m really pleased.”
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