Nurse Nicola Miller has been praised by police after stopping a distressed man from throwing himself in the River Chelmer.
Nicola, a recovery nurse in Theatres who has worked at Broomfield since 1995, was out walking her dog in central Chelmsford when she spotted the man in his fifties bent over a bin.
She presumed he was looking for something but heard a thud and looked back to see the man, who had his dog with him, slumped on the floor.
“I picked my little dog up, walked back and the man was clutching his chest,” said Nicola. “I asked him what his name was and he was complaining about his chest, then his stomach – he was all over the place.
“He was a little intoxicated and very distressed. He gave me the name of a woman that I called but she didn’t answer the phone. He then got up and started to walk. He was sweating a lot and fell again, almost falling on his dog. I couldn’t leave him.”
Nicola said she knew medically the man didn’t need an ambulance so took him to McDonalds and sat him down.
“He wasn’t really making any sense. I called the police for some back up but I couldn’t leave him or the dog. I was still speaking to him but I wasn’t really getting anything – just tears and him saying he wanted to end his life.
“We walked to the bridge by Popworld, and he picked his dog up and went to run but tripped again. I got hold of the dog but he said, ‘I just want to end things.’
“I said, ‘In twenty-four hours you won’t feel this way. And if you jump, I’ll have your dog.’ He said, ‘You’re not having my dog!’ And I said, ‘Well, you can’t jump.’”
Police kept track of Nicola on CCTV and talked to her on the phone as their surveillance car had broken down. She stayed with the man for two hours until assistance arrived, even though at times he became very agitated.
And despite Nicola asking for help from passing members of the public, nobody came to her aid.
When police arrived at Riverside, the man collapsed in tears.
“The policeman on the phone was brilliant and he kept telling me I was doing well. The policewoman who came to the scene to take over also thanked me for what I’d done.”
Nicola, who has two years’ experience as a counsellor to compliment her medical knowledge, called her family as soon as she returned home and it was only then she began to process what had happened.
“The man was so distressed. He may not have jumped but it was right place, right time. I was probably quite lucky as you never quite know who you might come across but it was emotionally draining.
“At work, every day and every hour is different and we’re always prepared for something to happen. I guess that’s why on the night I didn’t even think twice, I just had to act.”
After being featured in the Essex Chronicle, Nicola now has celebrity status in her department and has endured plenty of good-natured ribbing from her team.
But for one Broomfield colleague, Nicola’s heroics are no surprise. Nicola’s mum Eileen has been ward clerk on Lister for twenty years and is understandably proud of her daughter.
“I’m glad she’s getting recognised,” said Eileen. “She does so much that doesn’t get talked about. Every day she’s doing something for somebody else. I’d definitely say Nicola’s a hero. She’s embarrassed about the attention but she’s the one the whole family turn to. She’s just a lovely girl.”