First on the Scene
/ Author: CLAC Staff 1238 Rate this article:

First on the Scene

By Captain Perry Holland, Quinte West Fire Station 3 and CLAC Steward, Local 920

Last fall, Station 3 was dispatched to a structure fire in Sunny Creek Estates, a mobile home park. An elderly, disabled male was trapped inside in a back bedroom. The fire chief was driving near the location and responded directly. I lived close to the location as well and responded quickly to the home. The chief and myself arrived prior to the trucks and equipment. We were first on scene without any SCBA or bunker gear.

When I pulled up to the structure, I noticed light smoke coming from the open front door with the chief exiting the building in some distress from smoke inhalation. He indicated that the front was not accessible due to smoke and another way to the patient must be found. I took a quick walk to the back of the home to see if we could access him through a bedroom window, but it was too small.

On the side of the single wide trailer was an addition with another entry door. It was locked, but I was able to break through and make entry. I then found myself in a cluttered room that required us to climb over furniture to get to the next door, which was also locked. I again forced the door open and found the patient in his bed.

An OPP officer arrived and made entry through the smoke and down the hall to the patient, the same way that the chief had originally tried to access. The smoke conditions were light but hampered visibility. I requested that the police officer break the window in the bedroom to alleviate the smoke and improve visibility. The three of us then carried the patient back through the addition and to the outside.

Once outside, the chief experienced some distress from smoke inhalation. The rescue truck arrived and I administered oxygen to him. Once the ambulance arrived, the patient and the chief were both transported to the hospital, and the chief was released later that same day.

The entry team entered the structure and found the contents of a trash can had caught on fire, most likely from a cigarette butt. This filled the home with smoke but did not continue to burn or spread to the rest of the structure.

Subsequent to this event, I filled out an exposure report to protect myself from future complications. At this time I haven’t experienced any adverse effects. During the entire rescue, I was cognizant of exposure to smoke but at no time experienced difficulty breathing or eye irritation.

In past mobile home fires I’ve attended, they ignite very quickly. To the chief and me, the patient’s life presented itself as an immediate priority, where risk versus gain was necessary in this instance. Several weeks later, the chief, OPP officer, and I were recognized by the City of Quinte West for going above and beyond our civic duty.

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