A WOMAN has received a commendation from a top Essex Police officer after playing a pivotal role in saving a life.

Last November, Caitlan Smith saw a young woman standing on the wrong side of railings on a footbridge above a busy road in north Essex.

She immediately went to find out what was wrong.

Caitlan said: “It was freezing and really dark but I saw a movement and backtracked and there she was.

"It was fortunate because I had already walked past without noticing her.

“I spoke to her but she didn’t really say anything. I continued chatting to her and then realised something was seriously wrong.

“I told her I’d have to call the police.

"I didn’t know what to say to them but the woman on the other end of the phone was so lovely and guided me through all the questions.

"She told me to continue keeping the woman calm and to keep her talking.”

Caitlan added: “I was telling her she could get through it and could get better when the police arrived. I didn’t notice them at first but when I did, I knew I had to get permission from her before they could approach and the officers didn’t want to get too close until she’d said it was okay.

“But the woman on the phone stayed with me the whole time.

“Then I and the officers walked her off the bridge and she was taken off in an ambulance. I have been told she’s getting the help that she needs.”

Gazette: Praise - Essex Police chief constable Ben-Julian Harrington lauded Caitlan's bravery and selflessnessPraise - Essex Police chief constable Ben-Julian Harrington lauded Caitlan's bravery and selflessness (Image: Newsquest)

Caitlan was commended by Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington for her actions that night.

He said: “Caitlan’s bravery and selflessness was extraordinary.

“Faced with a young woman in extreme distress and in desperate need of help, her immediate and decisive actions helped to save the woman’s life. 

“I’m pleased, too, that she found our Force Control Room call-handler so supportive.

“It was a dangerous and, potentially, tragic situation but Caitlan stepped up and took responsibility, even though it meant considerable personal risk. 

Not everyone would have done so.”

Caitlan added: “I received my commendation with mixed feelings. It was a horrible situation but very rewarding at the same time. 

“I hope I’ve made a difference to her life.”