'Hero' cop praised for saving woman

SIOBHAN DOWNES AND AIMEE GULLIVER
Last updated 18:02 07/07/2014

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An elderly woman dragged from her burning home by a passing police officer says his heroic actions saved her life. 

The 77-year-old woman was pulled through a window by Senior Constable Adrian Oldham after he saw her collapse in thick black smoke engulfing the room last night.

The woman, who did not want to be named, issued a statement through Tauranga Hospital today, calling Oldham ‘‘absolutely amazing’’. 

‘‘I could not have wished for anybody better. 

‘‘If I had passed out and nobody had been there I wouldn’t be here now. He saved my life and it was my lucky day.’’ 

Oldham had been patrolling in Mount Maunganui when he saw the woman’s Maranui St home engulfed in flames. 

He banged on a ranch slider to discover if anyone was inside, but as the woman attempted to unlock the door to get to safety, she collapsed and fell backwards, disappearing into thick black smoke.

Unable to get into the house through the door, Oldham broke a window, crawled inside, and searched the room for the woman.

Despite being forced back to the window because he was struggling to breathe, Oldham refused to give up.

He crawled through the house, feeling his way along the floor until he found the collapsed woman.

As he tried to lift her through the window, he was joined by Constable Shane McCarthy, and together they were able to pull the woman to safety.

The officers were thanked today for their ‘‘selfless actions’’ by Police Commissioner Mike Bush. 

‘‘Every day I see the outstanding work which the men and women of the New Zealand Police undertake to keep people safe in their communities. Last night’s rescue could not be a better demonstration of this.’’

The fire began when the woman turned her electric blanket off, and it ignited in her hand, she said. 

‘‘I hurried into the bathroom and put a towel in some water to try and douse the flames but by the time I got back it had already spread too far.’’

She was overwhelmed by the speed of the fire, which had set the whole bed alight by the time she returned.

The last thing she saw before being overcome by the fumes was Oldham appearing at her window. 

‘‘That’s the last I remember until I heard somebody saying: ’Here’s the ambulance, we’re taking you to hospital’.’’

The Papamoa woman also thanked friends and neighbours who had come to her assistance since the fire.

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She has been discharged from Tauranga Hospital after being treated for smoke inhalation. 

Oldham will meet media at Tauranga Police Station tomorrow afternoon, but has asked for 24 hours to recover.

He suffered cuts to his hand and smoke inhalation, and was treated in hospital last night.

- Fairfax Media

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