A paramedic who disarmed a man brandishing a pistol has been honoured for his bravery.
Ex-army man Gary Criddle was among the winners at the South East Coast Ambulance Service’s annual awards.
He and crewmate Pete Banks were driving through the High Street in Hailsham in the early hours of the morning when a man suddenly leapt in front of the ambulance, forcing them to stop.
They wound down the win- dow to see what he wanted but the man suddenly produced a pistol and pointed it at Mr Criddle.
They drove about 100 metres down the road and got control to call the police.
Mr Criddle, 48, then walked back to the man to offer help. He said: “He looked drunk and distressed and I thought the gun was probably a replica but it was not until I got up close that I suddenly realised from my experience in the army that it looked all too real.
“But by that time I was with him and he was threatening to blow me away.
“A regular part of our job is calming people down and persuading them so that is what I did and fortunately he calmed down and dropped the gun on the ground.
“I picked it up and made sure there were no rounds in the magazine but it turned out to be just a very good quality replica pistol.”
The police took the man away and it later turned out he was drunk and suffering a family crisis.
James Pavey, the trust’s senior operations manager, who nominated Mr Criddle for a chief executive commendation, said: “This incident demon- strated Gary’s extraordinary professionalism and presence of mind in rapidly assessing the situation, and also his compassionate approach toward a very disturbed individual, perhaps preventing an escalation into a tragic loss of life.”
The chief executive commendation awards are given for clinical excellence, bravery, going above and beyond the call of duty, leadership and out- standing patient care.
Other Sussex winners included ambulance technician Laura Wilkinson, from Burgess Hill, for her actions and calm professionalism in treating a baby who was unresponsive.
Ash Fairs from Hastings was recognised for going above and beyond the call of duty, and also received a Royal Humane Society Award, for his actions in entering the sea off St Leonards after a young man had got into difficulty on some rocks in rising waters.
Paramedic Katie Dusart and ambulance technician Caroline Flack, from Eastbourne were praised for the role they played in identifying concerns at a care home.