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419th reservist, local police officer rescues veteran from house fire

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Erica Webster
  • 419th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – While many were still sleeping in their homes, thick plumes of smoke began rising into the air Jan. 3 in Cedar City, Utah. The smoke caught the attention of U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Patrick McCoy, an officer with the Cedar City Police Department, who was on duty that morning.

“I drove a bit trying to figure out what it was and where it was coming from,” McCoy said. “As I got closer, the calls for a house fire started to come in on the radio.”

First to arrive on scene, McCoy was met by two neighbors who said an elderly veteran in his 80s lives inside, but were unsure if he was home. Acting on instinct, McCoy entered the smoke-filled home, yelling to see if the man was inside.

“I could hear moaning, but I wasn’t able to get to him,” McCoy said. “The smoke was pitch black, I couldn’t breathe or see, and was unfamiliar with the house layout, so I had to retreat.”

McCoy rushed to his patrol truck, retrieved a sweatshirt his daughter had left, and wrapped it around his face.

“I had to do something to cover my mouth, the smoke was too thick,” McCoy said. “If I go down, then it’s a two-person rescue and now we have a big problem.”

By now firefighters had arrived and thrown a fire suppression device into the basement, while officers on the backside of the house kicked down the door.

“The smoke rose about eight inches off the ground,” McCoy said. “This allowed me to lay down and see where his head was at the top of the staircase, so I went to grab him.”

As McCoy made his way out with the man, other officers sprang to action picking both up and pulling them to safety. While much of the focus has been on McCoy, he recognizes that this rescue was a team effort.

“It wasn’t just me out there,” McCoy said. “I guarantee the other guys with me would have done what I did. I was in the right place at the right time, to make the move and get it done.”

Both McCoy and the man he rescued were taken to the hospital and treated for smoke inhalation.

“I went to the hospital and had a chance to meet him yesterday,” McCoy said. “He wasn’t able to speak with me but I was able to shake his hand. He’s got a strong handshake.”

McCoy is a part-time reservist and first sergeant in the 419th Logistics Readiness Squadron here. Traditional reservists train at least one weekend per month and two weeks a year, and most also have full-time jobs in the local community. McCoy has served with the Cedar City PD for nearly three years.