Hero of the South Ealing Gas Explosion

RSPCA officer pulled injured man from the rubble

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Jill Sanders, an RSPCA animal collection officer (ACO) from Darwin Road, W5 recounts her experience of Sunday's gas explosion in South Ealing.

Jill says she was having a cup of tea with her neighbour on Sunday (20 February) near her home in Ealing when they heard a loud bang.

"The roof had blown off a nearby house in South Ealing Road. We went along to see if we could do anything to help," said Jill.

"All you could see was the shell of the flat - and there was a man in the rubble with his hand sticking up.

"People were standing around so I asked if I could get into the flat. I climbed over the rubble in the downstairs area and got out the back of the building. I climbed up a flight of stairs and went to where the explosion was.

"There were quite a few people around, and I said they should get everyone out in case there was another explosion - it was a home for elderly people."The man was lying on the floor and I asked him if he could move, and he said "yes". I got another man to help me pull him out," Jill said.

"The man was very disorientated and his hair was singed, but luckily he seemed to have avoided serious injury."

Jill and her helper got the man downstairs to the ambulance and she tried to quietly slip off to her home in nearby Darwin Road, but the assembled crowd wasn't having it. "People were shaking my hand - I am a shy person normally and I got very embarrassed," said Jill.

"It was lucky that the explosion had not happened earlier - a bus had just pulled away. There were bricks and insulation flying everywhere and it could have been worse," she said.

Jill, who has worked for the RSPCA for 13 years, and was also in the army, said she acted instinctively and all her years of training kicked in. "I just acted automatically," she said.




24th February 2011

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