Fire department helps rescue man from frigid water

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Christopher Schepers,
  • 175th Wing - Maryland Air National Guard

BOWLEYS QUARTERS, Md. - Maryland Air National Guard firefighters teamed up with the Baltimore County Fire Department to rescue a man who fell into frigid water near Martin State Air National Guard Base.

The 175th Wing Fire Department responded to a call for help at a pier at Safe Harbor Marina in Bowleys Quarters at 1:23 a.m. Dec. 1. When they arrived, they found a 65-year-old man in the water clinging to a ladder. The man was hypothermic with an altered level of consciousness.

Baltimore County Fire Department Station 21 deployed rescue swimmers and 175th Wing firefighters donned personal flotation devices before entering the water to help extract the man. The firefighters and rescue swimmers were able to get him onto a backboard, lift him to a nearby boat and use the boat’s ladder as a cantilever to hoist the man onto the pier.

The 175th Wing firefighters cared for the patient until Baltimore County Fire Department medics transported him to the hospital.

“Saving a life is the most important and rewarding part of a career in emergency services,” said Jason Hearne, 175th Wing Fire Department fire chief. “Nobody ever calls the fire department when they are having a good day; we are called in someone’s moment of crisis. We can be counted on to bring calm to a chaotic situation. Our 175th Fire and Emergency Services firefighters did exactly what they train to do and helped save someone’s life, and as a fire chief I could not be more proud.”

The 175th Wing firefighters belong to an all-hazards agency that responds to an average of 250 emergencies per year on Martin State Air National Guard Base and the non-military airfield at Martin State Airport. They also have a mutual aid agreement with local fire stations that allows them to respond to approximately 250 mutual agreement calls per year in the local community.

To maintain readiness, the 175th firefighters routinely train with their mutual-aid partners and maintain training standards required by the Department of Defense and the U.S. Air Force. At the time of the response to this mutual-aid call, the members of the 175th Fire Department who were not on a scheduled shift participated in Operation Frosty Strike, a four-day readiness exercise at Martin State Airport.

“The 175th Fire and Emergency Services provide the Baltimore County Fire Department a highly trained and well equipped, 24-hour-staffed fire station possessing additional fire apparatus to better serve the citizens of the Middle River and Bowleys Quarters communities,” said Hearne. “Most importantly, these communities are primarily served by volunteer fire companies. The 175th is uniquely positioned to bring additional staff and resources to greatly enhance incident safety and successful outcomes by complementing the dedicated local volunteer firefighters.”

As long as a federal flying mission remains at Martin State Airport, the 175th Wing will be able to maintain their “highly skilled and experienced” firefighting capabilities, said Maryland Air National Guard Col. Richard Hunt, 175th Wing commander. “We want to continue serving the citizens in this community just as we have done for over 100 years.”