REAL HEROES: Four firefighers honored for saving life of Buckley woman
December 27, 2009 · Updated 1:44 PM
Four East Pierce Fire and Rescue firefighters were honored by the Board of Commissioners Dec. 15 for saving the life of a Buckley woman during a fire at her home.
Honored were firefighters Brian O’Leary, James Parke, Vance Mettlen and Jeff Palensky.
On Nov. 18, at approximately 3 a.m., East Pierce crews responded to a call for a medical emergency at a house on the 24100 block of 122 Street East, outside of Buckley.
When they arrived at the double-wide mobile home, it was clear they had a different type of emergency.
Flames and heavy smoke were visible from windows at the front of the home. Pierce County Sheriff’s deputies on the scene told firefighters the resident of the house had gone back inside.
The firefighters began to fight the blaze. As the incident commander, Mettlen called for backup, while O’Leary and Parke searched for a way into the house. With the front door engulfed in flames, they headed to the back of the house where they spotted the woman in a back bedroom.
“The smoke cleared for a split second and I saw her lying on the bed,” O’Leary said.
O’Leary and Parke entered the burning house through a broken window and brought the woman to safety.
The woman, in her late 50s, was treated at the scene for burns and smoke inhalation, then rushed to the burn unit at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with life-threatening injuries. She is still recovering from her injuries.
East Pierce Fire Chief Jerry Thorson said although it doesn’t happen often, firefighters train for this type of rescue situation.
“They put their lives on the line to rescue her,” Thorson said. “Their efforts were heroic.”