Several Drexel Heights Fire District firefighters were recognized this year after their heroic life-saving actions. In March 2014 Drexel Heights Fire District units were dispatched to a southwest side house fire with a person trapped inside. Pima County Sheriff’s Office also responded.
The first Drexel unit on scene was the squad truck. Firefighter/EMT John McGinn and Firefighter/Paramedic Mark Cowan began rescue efforts immediately by trying to gain access to the security front door. The sheriff’s deputy then told them there was noise closer to the back door. These firefighters switch-efforts and began to work on access to the rear security door.
Once the door was breached they made entry and began their rescue search. During that search they found the sole occupant underneath the kitchen bar area. They quickly began to pull the adult male victim from the home. Firefighter/EMT Chad Bailey and sheriff’s deputy joined them at the back door to assist with getting the victim to safety.
Quick survey of injuries by McGinn, Cowan and Bailey, revealed that the man had suffered severe burns to his upper torso. While he was unconscious, he was still alive. These firefighters knew that his only chance of survival was to get him immediate medical treatment. So they transferred care to a Drexel ambulance for transport to a local hospital that provides burn care.
While McGinn, Cowan and Bailey signed on to the firefighting career to rescue people from fires, these types of efforts are rarely ever able to be used. The majority of what firefighters do on a daily basis is medical response and nothing related to fires. When a fire incident does occur their typical involvement is purely fire extinguishment. Suppressing fires becomes so second nature, a person can get tunnel vision and forget the role of life safety.
McGinn, Cowan and Bailey remembered what the number one priority is that dreadful day. By staying focused, these firefighters gave the resident the best fighting chance he had to be able to survive his injuries. Their heroic actions were recognized by Drexel Heights Fire District’s governing board and they received the “Heart of Gold” award from the Stronger Than Steel Project.