A PARAMEDIC who confronted a man with a pistol has won a national award for his bravery.

Former army man Gary Criddle was presented with the Association of Chief Police Officers National Bravery Award at a special ceremony.

Mr Criddle, who works from Hailsham ambulance station, was driving back to base with a crew mate in the early hours when a man suddenly leapt in front of their ambulance.

When they wound down the window to check what he wanted, the man suddenly produced a gun and pointed it at Mr Criddle.

They quickly drove to a safe position and put in a call to the police.

Mr Criddle, 48, said: “A regular part of our job is calming people down and persuading them, so I walked back to the man and did just that. Despite the man’s threats, fortunately, he calmed down and dropped the gun.”

The police took the man away and it emerged he was drunk and suffering a family crisis. The pistol was discovered to be a replica.

Mr Criddle also received a commendation from South East Coast Ambulance Service chief executive Paul Sutton following the incident in June 2013.

Mr Sutton said: “Gary’s actions were extremely brave and well beyond what we would expect of him.

“He de-escalated the incident quickly and calmly and we are very proud that he has received such a high profile award.”

James Pavey, senior operations manager, added: “Gary acted selflessly and bravely when others, given the same circumstances, may not have done so, therefore upholding the very highest standards of public service.”

Chief Inspector Gary Pike from Sussex Police said: “We admire this example of the initiative and courage of our colleagues in other emergency services, with whom we are proud to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, helping to protect our communities.”