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Paramedic’s Corner: Teamwork saved lives last week at Shannon Valley fire
Paramedic’s Corner: Teamwork saved lives last week at Shannon Valley fire

Ambulance Director Gary Carmack
Teamwork! That’s what it was during those early morning hours, as flames shot high into the night sky. Fire, ambulance, and police — all were working together to save lives, treat the injured, evacuate people to safety and suppress fire. It is my strong belief that had those organizations not worked with such precision, people would have died and property damage expanded to horrible proportions.

I received a call shortly after midnight on March 25 reporting a major structure fire at Shannon Valley Apartments in Waynesville. My deputy chief, Mike McCart, was one of the first responders to arrive. A police officer, firefighter, and Mike rescued two people trapped, and with few minutes to spare, pulled them through a window and saved their lives.

As I approached the fire that night, the flames were high in the sky. I staged my response vehicle with the ambulances to establish Medical Incident Command (MIC) and reported in to the fire chief. The heat from the fire could be felt at quite a distance. One of our ambulances had already transported two patients, the two people who Mike had earlier carried down the ladder, to General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital. The patients were in serious condition from smoke and superheated air inhalation. A little later, we transported one of them to St. John’s Hospital in Springfield and another ambulance transported the second patient shortly after.

The remainder of the night, we rehabbed firefighters, treated one firefighter with an injury, and helped others from the apartments with needs. We had to transport one firefighter to St. John’s Hospital in Lebanon with an injury. Much of the responsibility of Deputy Chief McCart and me for the rest of the night was safety. That meant keeping track of people and ensuring firefighters were rotated out of direct fire-fighting for fluids and vital sign checks.

I want to say something about the upcoming tax request by the Waynesville Rural Fire Protection District (Prop FF). I hate taxes as well as any of the readers. When seeing my pay check evaporate and realizing how much the government takes from me, like many of you, it is disheartening. With that said, we need those full-time firefighters! There is no question in my mind that a slower response that night would have caused far greater catastrophe. The firefighters were quick, precise, and superb! They give it all for us and I hope our community will support their endeavor.

I have to tell the readers, as I watched this large scene, I was proud of our community. The Red Cross found shelter for displaced people, the precise coordination by the fire chiefs, firefighters working so hard, the EMTs and paramedics treating people, and the police were constantly checking and helping us all. Everyone was concerned about people — other humans during this frightful night, caring — the best of us mere humans came out.

Dedicated to Paramedic Mike McCart: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. — Jesus Christ

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