Everyday Heroes: 911 dispatcher, firefighter team up to save a l - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Everyday Heroes: 911 dispatcher, firefighter team up to save a life

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(09/18/12) - Every year the Genesee-Lapeer chapter of the American Red Cross honors our friends, family and community members who stepped up when they were needed.

Those 'Everyday Heroes' will be honored at an event this Thursday.

Often, those heroes use teamwork to save a life. That was just the case when a 911 dispatcher and a firefighter worked together to guide a woman out of a smoke-filled home in Lapeer County.

It was an early July morning when something woke Jennifer Franz out of a sound sleep. "Just the smoke. That's all I could see, and I wasn't sure where exactly where it was coming from."

Franz called 911. Lapeer County 911 dispatcher Matt Bennett answered.

"My house is on fire," Franz said.

As Franz talked to Bennett, she and her young daughter Emma were climbing out their first floor window.

"A friend's sleeping upstairs, my daughters in bed with me," Franz said. "Is everyone out of the house?" Bennett asked.

The answer was no. Franz's friend Adrian Reemer was spending the night, upstairs. On a normal night, Franz's three young daughters would have been in that room. But this night, two were up north with family.

"He's asking me, where upstairs, and I keep saying upstairs. Not thinking that he doesn't know my upstairs," Franz later recounted.

"Where are they at in the house," Bennett asked. "Upstairs in my room," Franz replied. "Where upstairs? I need to know exactly where in the house it is so we can tell the fire department," Bennett asked again.

"They teach us to you know, repetitive, consistent to keep asking the same question because they don't always hear it the first time and they might hear it but they don't comprehend it," Bennett explained.

"Ma'm I need to know exactly where the person is that's still in the house," Bennett said. "She's upstairs in my daughter Olivia's bedroom. It's the first door on the right," Franz said.

Knowing Franz couldn't help her friend get out, Bennett explored other options.

"What is your friend's cellphone number," Bennett asked. "I don't know," Franz replied. "You don't know?" questioned Bennett. "No because it's on my speed dial," Franz said.

"It's something that we deal with a lot now because everybody's got a cellphone and they usually have it with them. They usually sleep with it right next to them," Bennett said.

"I want you to hang up the phone immediately. I want you to get her phone number and I want you to call us back," Bennett instructed Franz.

By this time Reemer was awake, and well aware of her surroundings.

"I got a hold of her but she can't come downstairs it's too black," Franz explained.

Dryden Township Assistant Fire Chief Mark Hagemeister arrived first at the fire hall.

While others got the truck ready, Hagemeister headed for Franz's house on foot, about a two-block walk. "It was coming out the eaves and windows, yes it was pretty heavy," Hagemeister said.

Now Bennett turned his attention to Reemer, who was coughing in the thick smoke. "It's getting really smokey in here," Reemer said. "Is there any way for you to get out of the house?" Bennett asked. "No," Reemer said.

"When you hear someone in a house fire and they start coughing, I mean you really get a picture of how heavy the smoke must be," Bennett said.

"Get as low as possible as you can in the, the room that you're in," Bennett said to Reemer.

While Bennett worked to guide Reemer to the top of the stairs, Hagemeister arrived at the front door.

"Do you see somebody there," Bennett asked. "Yes," Reemer said. "I want you to go towards the flashlight," Bennett said.

"I instructed her to get on her hands and knees and come down backwards, feet first," Bennett said.

One lifeline was on the phone, the other at the bottom of the stairs.

"Tell them we got her," Hagemeister said over his fire radio. "They got her," Bennett relayed to other emergency responders.

Reemer was checked out at the hospital for inhaling so much smoke. It came from a fire that started below the kitchen stove. Luckily, the fire melted a plastic water line which doused it before it could spread and do more serious damage.

The happy ending, made possible by a calm voice and a quick acting firefighter.

"I try not to think about what could of happened. I mean if my other two girls were there and they were sleeping upstairs, there was no way," Franz said.

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