PARMA HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) — One man’s life and his dog were saved in Parma Heights Friday morning because the right people were in the right place at the right time.
“Where we were located coming back from the hospital, if we weren’t right there another couple minutes, this guy may not have made it,” said Shane Berger.
He and Spencer Heppner, both Parma firefighters and paramedics, were returning from a hospital run when they received the alert for a structure fire in the 7000 block of York Road, Friday morning, just as the man who lived there needed rescue.
“Hurry! Hurry! I can’t breathe, please hurry,” you can hear the man say in a 911 call.
But the smoke was so thick, it was hard for Berger and Heppner to navigate, and the clock was ticking.
“We did notice there was fire coming out of multiple vents from the basement,” said Heppner, “And there’s fire coming out right beneath us.”
The men used an ax to smash out a bedroom window and jumped through it to gain entry into the house.
“We’re in rescue mode and it’s time to get to work,” said Heppner.
They located the man near the entryway to the bedroom but the smoke was too thick and there was no time to find the front door.
So they lifted him up back through the smashed-out window where Middleburg Heights Assistant Fire Chief Dale Higginbotham was waiting and caught him.
Higginbotham also happened to be in the area and had responded.
But the rescue wasn’t over yet.
As Parma Heights firefighters arrived and began dousing the flames, Heppner and Berger went back inside to search for the elderly man’s dog.
“He’s down on the floor and not super happy cause he’s in a fire,” said Heppner, “He kinda latched onto my glove cause he’s freaked out and I was able to pull him out ….. then we gave him some oxygen and he pepped up.”
“It’s a miracle I mean a lot of firefighters work their entire careers and never get the opportunity to make a grab to save somebody,” said Shane Berger, Parma Firefighter & Paramedic, “This guy’s alive and I think it comes down to timing is everything.”
“This is why we’re here,” said Berger, “This is why we do this job.”
The firefighters told Fox 8 News that the man was in stable condition at the hospital Friday night and his dog was also recovering.
No other injuries were reported.
The fire was “quickly extinguished” and its cause is under investigation, according to a press release.