AN EMERGENCY 999 operator has been hailed a heroine for her part in a dramatic life-saving rescue.
Victoria Shufflebottom, 27, of Dill Hall Lane, Church, kept a terrified Preston woman calm as a fire ripped through her home, trapping her in her bedroom.
Victoria, who works at Lancashire Fire and Rescue’s emergency control centre in Preston, said: "I just answered the call the same way I would answer any other. I quickly realised that the woman was trapped by smoke and that keeping her calm would be the key to keeping her safe."
Victoria calmed a desperate Angela Aguirreburuaide, a 32-year-old research assistant at the University of Central Lancashire, and took detailed information, enabling her to direct fire crews to the exact point where she was stranded in a first-floor bedroom.
She also stayed on the phone with Angela and talked through fire survival techniques, including pressing bedclothes around the door to keep thick smoke from filling the room.
Victoria, who lives with her boyfriend Darren Rimmington, 29, a retained firefighter at Hyndburn Fire Station, said: "I have been getting lots of praise at work, but I was just doing my job.
"It was a real team effort. While I was talking to Angela fire crews were fighting the fire and my colleagues in the control centre were relaying the information I received to the crews. We all did our best to save Angela.
"Situations like this don’t happen very often but when they do the fire safety training we receive kicks straight in. I didn’t really realise the extent of what was happening until the crews reached Angela and pulled her to safety."
Angela, who lives in Ingol with her brother, said: "Victoria’s advice was really helpful. The seven minutes we were on the phone felt like an eternity as the situation was petrifying.
"I would like to say a big thank-you to Victoria and the firefighters for all they did. I was very lucky."
Fire chiefs have commended Victoria and said her actions were heroic and undoubtedly helped to save a life.
The fire in the terraced house began shortly after 3am last Thursday after Angela and her brother Julio accidentally left a candle burning in the lounge when they went to bed.
Fire crews said Julio managed to throw his mattress from his first-floor bedroom at the back of the house and jump to safety.