Raleigh NC, Wednesday November 16th, 2011- St. Stephens Captain Eric Jones along with a member of Catawba County EMS and two Oxford Firefighters were honored by the North Carolina Highway Patrol with Citizen Life Saving Awards. Secretary Reuben Young of the Department of Crime Control & Public Safety and Colonel Michael W. Gilchrist, Commander of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, presented the awards to Captain Jones and his colleagues. The awards ceremony was held at the State Bureau of Investigation Auditorium in Raleigh. Captain Jones along with the others involved in this incident were invited this day to receive the award in the presence of many NC Highway Patrolmen and was broadcast through multiple news media's.
The accident occurred on April 30th, 2010 at approx. 6:35 p.m. involving a vehicle that had left the roadway and struck a house. The vehicle was intruding into the house and sustained heavy damage to the front and drivers door area. The impact of the collision and heavy damage displaced the steering wheel and pinned the drivers legs from the knees down. Almost immediately following the impact, the engine compartment of the vehicle caught fire. A son of the homeowner whose home was struck used a tractor to remove the vehicle from the residence with the patient still inside. With the vehicle removed from the residence, Captain Jones along with EMS and Oxford Firefighters quickly went to work trying to remove the patient from the vehicle. The first attempt was made utilizing the driver and passenger doors with no success. First Sergeant McLaughlin with the NC Highway Patrol arrived on the scene and attempted to put the fire out using a small fire extinguisher before the fire department arrived, but was unsuccessful. By this time the fire had breached the fire wall of the vehicle and was beginning to burn the patient's legs. The second attempt to remove the patient was made utilizing the passenger side rear door. Once inside the vehicle they laid the drivers seat back to get a firm hold on the patient. The three men then pulled and tugged on the patient until the patient was free and was removed from the burning vehicle. This rescue took place utilizing manpower only with sheer determination, training, courage, and braveness. No extrication or fire suppression equipment had made it to the scene at this time. The patient escaped the fiery collision with her life and burns to only the lower portions of both legs.
First Sergeant McLaughlin with the NC Highway Patrol stated that this was such a great example of how cooperation and teamwork between first responders saves lives. The actions made by all involved were nothing short of Heroic. Due to the conditions that occurred that day and the heroic actions taken by all those involved, Sergeant McLaughlin nominated all the individuals involved in the rescue for the North Carolina Highway Patrol Citizens Life Saving Award. According to the Highway Patrol, the award "recognizes a citizen who participated in, or assisted in, an event of an exceptional nature to save the life of another person, a member of the Highway Patrol, or prevent injury with/without risk of personal life." This special award is rarely given to emergency service workers or the general public. Most of the time it is only given to the patrolman that was involved with the incident, due to the circumstances of this particular incident, Sergeant McLaughlin as well as the State of North Carolina saw that it was necessary to award all the rescuers involved in this incident.
During the ceremony it was stated that all involved with this incident went beyond the normal call of duty and demonstrated outstanding judgment. This level of service exemplifies what it means to be a first responder – To Serve Others. Of the five awards given by the NC Highway Patrol, The Citizen Life Saving Award is the most prestigious, and is the least awarded.
The St. Stephens Fire Department would like to commend Captain Eric Jones for his heroism and actions that day. We would also like to congratulate him for receiving such an honorable award. Eric was recognized earlier this month by the St. Stephens Fire Department, Chief, and Chairman of the Board of Directors at our annual Christmas banquet with a Certificate of Heroism.
When Eric was asked how they got the patient out of the car that day he stated, "God got that person out of the car that day; we were just there to help."
Eric Jones has been an active member with St. Stephens Fire Department and Claremont Rescue Squad for 11 years. Eric serves on the State Medical Assistance Team and Special Events team for Catawba County EMS.