The efforts of numerous Council Bluffs first responders saved the lives of two young children less than a week ago when a house went up in flames near the downtown area.
Firefighters, EMTs, police officers and paramedics all served in different capacities at the scene of the incident sharing a common goal: To act swiftly and efficiently under duress to produce the best possible outcome.
The men and women responding to the conflagration arrived and handled business without the expectation of a pat on the back or validation. And although first responders were undeniably simply doing their jobs, their effort and bravery enabled a 3-year-old boy and an 18 month old to escape the burning home’s second story with their lives.
So, the Nonpareil has a simple message: Thank you.
Thank you, firefighters and other first responders, for protecting our community in so many ways. Thank you for showing up when others won’t. Thank you for putting yourselves into harm’s way without immediate concern for your own well-being. Thank you for being a watchdog of our streets, homes and community.
Fire Chief Justin James on Saturday — the day after the fire — took to Facebook praising the effort of his fire squad and other first responders. In his message, he paints a picture of what the responding fire team experienced en route to the blaze.
“As they left the stations, they could see the heavy smoke coming from the destination,” James said. “Every one of them (firefighters) were about to face the job they have trained their entire careers for.
“All the years of working out, the repetitive hours of drills at the training tower, the EMS classes, the injuries overcome and the experience garnered from being there before was about to converge on a single job.”
Arriving at the scene shortly after 7:30 p.m. Friday, Bluffs firefighters were met by officers of the Council Bluffs Police Department who’d gathered the necessary intel for the fire squad to dive into action. Two children were stuck on the second floor of home converted into two apartment units in the 300 block of Lawton Terrace, firefighters were told.
The children were rescued and the fire was put out swiftly. Dan Roberts, fire investigator for the Council Bluffs Fire Department, said the blaze was started by juvenile fire play.
“It takes a perfect orchestra of individuals who all in the moment understand their part of the performance,” James said in his post, alluding to the response effort. “… In the end, this harmony was executed perfectly. It was a good as it can get considering the terrible situations. It was swift and effective from start to finish.
“I often say that it doesn’t matter how many certificates or diplomas we have. It doesn’t matter how many awards or accolades. We are here to SERVE and it only matters how good we are in the street. Last night, you all (first responders) were as good as it gets.”
A 21-year-old man and the 3 year old — both sustaining burn injuries — were transported to medical facilities and treated before being released. The 18-month-old boy, as of Tuesday afternoon, remained in critical condition at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital in Iowa City, the child’s grandfather, Dave Smith, told the Nonpareil during a Tuesday phone conversation.
The boy has burns on about 60% of his body and suffered lung damage from smoke inhalation, Smith said.
But, he is alive. He has a fighting chance to recover. He may one day live a fulfilling life.
“You gave a second chance to the victims with seconds to spare,” James wrote, praising the responding team.
The Nonpareil views the situation in the same light. The effort displayed Friday was valiant and we believe that similar responses in the future will save more lives.
The children involved in Friday’s fire have an uphill road to recovery — physically and emotionally. But, they have the opportunity to tackle this challenge and walk toward brighter days because of our local first responders’ heroics.
Again, thank you.
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