As emergency first responders, paramedics do more than just wait for firefighters or law enforcement to bring patients to them. One Oklahoma paramedic took it upon himself to rescue a woman from a burning building.
Muskogee paramedics were called to the scene of a residential fire at the Greenleaf Apartments in Muskogee County, Oklahoma. Paramedics and firefighters worked together when they arrived on the scene, according to paramedic supervisor Chris Turner.
"We asked them what they needed from us. Some residents said there was a lady that lives in one of the corner apartments that they hadn't seen, and she was disabled. I sent Matt up there to look for her."Paramedic supervisor Chris Turner
Matt Gardenhire went up to the third floor to get the woman.
Gardenhire yelled to Turner to let him know that he had retrieved the woman. He said it was difficult to see inside the building.
"I could hear a voice screaming down the hallway. After about 40-50 yards, I ran upon a lady that was laying on the floor screaming for help. I grabbed ahold of her and got her out."Paramedic Matt Gardenhire
As soon as he and the woman came out of the building, Gardenhire said he knew that something did not feel right. He said, " Within 10 minutes after I left the building I started getting sick. But I went back in, up to the second floor which was still smoky — that wasn't smart."
Gardenhire was taken to the Saint Francis Hospital Muskogee for overnight observation, and was treated for smoke inhalation.
According to Turner, the paramedics set up a triage area in a bowling alley parking lot. Many of the patients were treated onsite, and only one person had to be taken to the hospital.
Assistant Fire Chief Ben Terrell, the crew, kept the fire to a single unit on the third floor and was out in an hour.
"There was one unit gutted. Units on each side have heavy smoke damage — that whole hall is going to have smoke damage. The apartment below it has water damage."Muskogee Assistant Fire Chief Ben Terrell
Residents will not be allowed into that building. Terrell wants to make sure everyone will be safe and is especially worried that "the ceiling may fall."
Gardenhire likely saved the woman's life by heading up to the third floor to retrieve her.