Heroic prison officers' frantic rescue of women caught up in fire

·3-min read

Incredible body-camera vision of prison officers responding to a fire in a Sydney women’s correctional facility has been released.

Three officers from the Mary Wade Correctional Centre in Lidcombe have been awarded a Commissioner’s Commendation for Brave Conduct on September 30 after they rescued inmates from a fire on June 12.

In the video released on Wednesday, officers Andrew Boan, Geoffrey Ronayne and Fraser Leavasa can be seen unlocking a cell door to reveal a fire, the video then cuts to an inmate who lies motionless on the floor outside one of the cells.

A prison guard attempting to put out a fire with an extinguisher at Mary Wade Correctional Centre.
It's believed the fire at Mary Wade Correctional Centre was allegedly started by an inmate. Investigations are continuing. Source: Dept of Communities and Justice NSW

With the alarm ringing and the fire brigade on the way, an officer begins to perform CPR on one of the inmates as another attends to the blaze in the cell with a fire extinguisher.

A third officer carries an inmate to the outdoor area so she can be treated by waiting paramedics.

As firefighters arrive, officers carry out checks in every cell making sure they have been evacuated with nobody left behind, they can be heard yelling “clear” with each room they inspect.

Outside paramedics are treating a correctional officer and several inmates.

An officer is seen soaking a towel and rushing outside to drape it over a woman who is being worked on by paramedics. He asks if one of the women is breathing.

“She just started breathing,” a female paramedic tells him.

The video ends with a guard updating other concerned inmates waiting in the facility gym.

Body-camera still of an officer performing CPR on a female inmate.
Three prison guards have been awarded the Commissioner’s Commendation for Brave Conduct after they saved several inmates from a fire. Source: Dept of Communities and Justice NSW

“Take a rest and just breathe, alright, we’ll let you know how the girls are,” he assures them.

Two corrections officers were taken to hospital for treatment for smoke inhalation and seven others as a precaution.

The two female inmates, both aged 36, were taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation and burns. One inmate, aged 40, was also treated for smoke inhalation.

In the days after the fire, the officers were given a standing ovation by inmates, and handmade greeting cards of praise and gratitude.

Paramedics working on several inmates and officers after the fires at Mary Wade Correctional Centre.
Correctional officers and inmates were taken to hospital with smoke inhalation and burns. Source: Department of Communities and Justice NSW

“The officers maintained composure in the face of fire and the risk of serious injury, while also demonstrating courage and compassion in saving the lives of the two women in the cell,” Corrective Services NSW’s Peter Severin said.

“I’m very proud of the officers’ response to this incident at Mary Wade. They are true ambassadors for Corrective Services NSW.”

It is alleged the blaze was started by one of the inmates who used a spark from an electricity outlet to set fire to a mattress. Investigations are continuing.

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