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Local firefighter honored for bravery

By Kaitlin Loukides
Published On: Jun 06 2014 03:12:16 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 06 2014 03:33:53 PM CDT

Pocatello Firefighter receives Idaho Medal of Honor this weekend.

POCATELLO, Idaho -

This weekend one local firefighter will be making history as the first Pocatello firefighter to receive the Idaho Medal of Honor award for his act of bravery and heroism.

Pocatello Fire Department's Captain Ryan O'Hearn will be one of three recipients of this year's award for his actions during the 2005 Elm Street fire, which ended with him risking his own life to save another.

"We have a motto: 'we will risk a lot to save a lot and when we know we have someone trapped in a house, then that is the highest level of being able to take that risk," O'Hearn said.

But as common as fires can become during the hot, dry months, there was nothing common about this particular call that came in on June 23, almost exactly nine years ago.

David Fisher was trapped inside his smoke-filled home after he tried putting a fire out, then panicked before he could escape, causing his wheelchair to become wedged-in.

"His wife was able to get out of the house and she called 9-1-1, and then provided them with the information that her husband was trapped, wheelchair-bound and he was unable to get out of the house," O'Hearn added.

He recalled what took place at the scene.

"You could hear him calling out and what happened was that his wheelchair had become wedged in the hallway, and since it was a motorized chair, he could not get it to go forward or back."

Although O'Hearn was able to save him, Fisher died shortly after being able to spend a few more days of quality time with his family. 

Fast-forward nine years, O'Hearn will be one out of three firefighters across the state to receive this award, after he was nominated by Pocatello Fire Chief David Gates.

Although he is the only firefighter from Pocatello to receive this award, he said it was a team effort that day in 2005 and he was just doing his job the same as the rest of his colleagues.

"Had I been on the second truck or had I been on the ambulance instead of that first firetruck, then (it would be) one of my coworkers here today instead of me," O'Hearn noted.

The other two recipients of this award are Jeff Piazza from the Clark Fork Fire Rescue Department and Stuart Eigler from the Owen Fire District.


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