Friday, May 12, 2017

“Remarkable feat of heroism”

I don’t think I ever thought that I would go into a burning building until I considered a new journey to become a volunteer firefighter. When faced with that situation, I think people would go in to help someone. 

Sometimes people begin a conversation with me about firefighting when they notice I’m wearing a fire company T-shirt. Many of them give me credit for what we do as firefighters. Many often say they could never go into a burning building. Most also say that they wouldn’t want to do it. I understand that people have their reasons why they would not want to become a firefighter, just like we have our reasons why we do it.

After hearing people say they wouldn’t go into a burning building, I also heard a few stories on the news and I even reported one recently about people who bravely entered a burning building with no training and no protective gear. Such actions are why firefighters commend the public for their courageous acts.

After a recent residential fire, East Brandywine Chief John Edwards told me that the neighbors went into a burning East Brandywine home to rescue the homeowner prior to the arrival of first-responders. The resident had safely exited the trailer home, told a neighbor to report the fire and then she re-entered her home to save her cat. Overcome by the smoke, she dropped inside the entrance of her home. When neighbors saw that, they rushed into the home and dragged her to safety. She suffered from smoke inhalation, but survived.

I agree with East Brandywine Chief John Edwards, who described the situation as an act of heroism.
“Tonight incredibly caring people risked their lives entering a burning trailer to save their neighbor,” Edwards said, “what a remarkable feat of heroism.”

The fire crews quickly extinguished a room and contents fire within 20 minutes of arrival, according to Edwards. Firefighters found her cat uninjured and East Brandywine firefighter/EMT Max Castoldi carried him outside. In the fire service, the two priorities are to save lives and protect property. It’s a matter of helping people, and that’s why we do it. That’s why I think you would go in too if you witnessed a similar incident.   


Photo by Mark J. Walsh of IrishEyez Photography - East Brandywine firefighter/ EMT Max Castoldi carries the uninjured cat to safety after a house fire in Chester County.
After what I have seen as a journalist and a volunteer firefighter, I don’t think that someone would stand by and not help another person before first-responders arrive. When I had CPR training, the instructor said the worst thing you could do is nothing – by not calling 911, not yelling out for help, neglect checking on someone, not beginning chest compressions and not retrieving the nearby AED. He tells people that if they learn how to perform CPR then they would jump into action if they needed to perform CPR on a family member, a friend, or a stranger who went into cardiac arrest in their presence. You would help. As a member of the public, it’s something that you hope you never have to do. The same concept applies when you see someone in need, even if it’s in a burning building.

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