Firefighters are generally hailed as heroes for what they do: They’re in the business of saving lives and mitigating damage, a noble pursuit.
But on Monday night, one firefighter from Orlando, Florida, risked it all to save a woman moments from death. Not only did he put his own life on the line, he gave her his own lifeline, too — a choice that has made all the difference for her but could have ended in disaster for him.
The driver had been able to escape, but the passenger, a woman, was stuck and couldn’t get out of the wreck, which continued to leak gasoline.
While some of the crew sprayed the car with water to try to put out the flames, Orlando Fire Lt. Bassel Ibrahim broke through the back window to reach the woman, who was having difficulty breathing.
“She was located on the roof backwards, stuck between the back headrest, the roof, and then the car was pretty damaged,” Ibrahim told WESH-TV in Orlando.
“I don’t think she had much time. Honestly, I — I’d say less than a minute for sure,” he said. “You can’t really breathe smoke, nobody can breathe smoke and make it for a long period of time, so it was really happy that we were where we were at the, at the time that we were.”
So Ibrahim made the decision to remove his own air pack and give it to the woman. She was able to breathe thanks to his oxygen while he continued to work to free her.
“The entire crew continued to apply water to the fire and use extrication equipment to remove the patient,” the Orlando Fire Department posted on Facebook regarding the incident. “She had only seconds to live should it not have been for that air pack transfer.
“The fire kept reigniting and the fuel started to light off under the vehicle. The Engineer cut the unlocked trunk out of the way with the sawzall to give room to remove the victim from the rear window. The LT pried off the roof with a haligan to create more space, then both the LT and FF were able to pull the victim out through the rear window opening and drag her out of harms way. Patient care was initiated and turned over to Engine 16.”
The woman was life-flighted to Orlando Health, where her injuries were treated. She is expected to survive — thanks to Ibrahim’s sacrifice and the whole team’s work.
The Orlando Fire Department also recognized the work of engineer Scott Hammond and firefighters Daniel Crocker and Korey Steinert to help Ibrahim save the passenger.
Ibrahim himself refused to accept the title of hero, though. He maintained that the team worked together as a whole to do what it is supposed to, referring to the air pack he gave the woman as “our air pack.”
“This is not about me at all,” Ibrahim said. “It’s about, it’s about the team.
“Well, it’s about doing our job and the outcome is good. I don’t know about that hero part.”