Clark County Facilities electrician Ryan Bird was headed to his car after work on a Friday night when he heard what he thought was a smoke alarm. A short distance away, he saw smoke and the glow of fire in a neighbor's home. He quickly headed to the house, pounded on the front door and asked the woman to unlock it. Her clothes had caught fire while she was cooking and she was not able to unlock the door! Ryan ran to the back door. He got inside and helped her outside to sit down. Once she was safe, he went back into the home and kept the flames from spreading before Fire District 5 firefighters arrived. Richard Martin, Clark County Assistant Fire Marshal said "The fire department and I would like to acknowledge and thank Ryan for his alertness and quick actions. This was a situation that would have had a much different outcome without his intervention.” Thank you Ryan!
Francisco Meliton, farm manager for Goose Point Oyster Farms, and his crew were returning to their cannery on Willapa Bay on a very cold, windy February morning when they spotted something in the water -- plus two people standing on a sand spit – one holding the other. Once they got closer, Francisco could tell the “something” was a boat and it was in 18 to 25 feet deep water. At this point, he knew the two were in trouble! The tide was rising as Francisco turned his boat towards the couple aged 71 and 59. As he was reaching them, Francisco said the woman could not hold up the man any longer and he fell to the submerging sand spit. This water rescue was a first for Francisco and his crew. They were able to get the two onto the oyster boat and began warming them while transporting to emergency responders. Officer Dan Chadwick of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said it was only heroic intervention by Francisco and his crew that kept the man and woman from drowning. They were hypothermic and exhausted. Francisco and his crew were able to rescue both to be life flighted to a hospital. Thank you Francisco and to your crew!
On their way to work one February morning near Naselle, Scott Beutler and a friend noticed a basketball sized notch in a tree that had not been there previously. Sensing that something was wrong as they drove, they called 911 to see if an accident had been reported recently. As they were about to lose cell coverage and feelings of uneasiness were getting stronger, they returned to the tree. While his friend talked with 911, Scott found a wrecked car a few hundred feet from the road. Searching through the car, they found a woman slumped over the steering wheel and an empty child’s car seat. Searching outside the car, they found not one but two young girls huddled under a blanket keeping each other warm. Sadly, their mother had fallen asleep while driving the night before and did not survive. The 4 yr old had pulled her 2 yr old sister from the wreckage and wrapped them both in a blanket while waiting for help. The girls were very cold, in shock and the 2 yr old had leg injuries. Had Scott not trusted his instincts that morning, there would most likely have been a very different outcome for the two little girls. Thank you Scott!
On Easter Sunday, two friends were out kayaking near Cathlamet. One of the kayakers got too close to a jetty that was known to be very dangerous and very turbulent. The current was swift and sucked her kayak toward the jetty and under water. She was left hanging onto a log piling after her kayak sank 30 miles from the mouth of the Columbia River. The water was 47 degrees that day. Her friend raced for help to call 911. Mrs. Grasseth, the 911 operator on duty, first called the Wahkiakum Co. Sheriff and then she called Cindy. Cindy Faubion is the 911 operator’s mother. Luckily for the kayaker, Cindy could reach the kayaker faster than the Sheriff rescue boat. She is an expert kayaker and could see the jetty from her home. Even though Cindy had a broken arm, she and her family left their Easter breakfast; jumped into her kayak and their skiff and headed toward the jetty. They reached the kayaker and brought her back to shore – very cold but safe. Thank you Cindy and family!
Bob Robeck from Yacolt was on his way to a construction job driving east on I-84 when he saw a “glint” in the corner of his eye. It took him a half-second to realize that it could be a Toyota Camry that had been a few cars ahead of him. The vehicle had rolled several times before coming to rest on its top on the shoulder. When he saws no one from the back seat area of the car, Bob was sincerely hoping this car had just fallen off a tow truck. Then he saw a woman slumped over in the driver’s seat unresponsive. Bob kicked in the backseat window, and crawled partly into the car to cut off her seat belt. He wasn’t able to get the woman out with the seat in his way. Several people had also stopped to assist and they were finally able to get the woman out through the sunroof of the burning car. Bob said the reason he sprinted toward the car on his arrival and tirelessly worked to extricate the unconscious female driver was a selfish one. “I did not want to watch somebody die today,” he said. Shortly after getting the woman out, the car was engulfed in flames. According to Legacy, the woman’s family thanked all who responded but was especially thankful for Bob’s “heroism, determination and quick thinking”. Thank you Bob!
While Rhett Burbank was home on leave from his job in Africa, his brother, Joel, was visiting Rhett and his wife, Karen. Joel was looking out the kitchen window and saw their neighbor lying face down in her backyard. Joel called for Rhett to take a look. There was definitely something wrong with their neighbor. Karen called 911 while Rhett ran to the neighbor’s house. He ran through the front door, assured the neighbor’s grandchildren that he was okay to be in the house and had them show him the way to the backyard. Upon reaching her, Rhett found the neighbor unresponsive with no pulse. He gave CPR for 5 minutes before the emergency teams arrived. Karen relayed the instructions from the 911 operator to Rhett while standing on their back porch above the fence. Rhett had learned how to give CPR in high school but had never used it. He learned quickly from Karen that he had remembered wrong! The neighbor had had a heart attack while in the backyard with her dogs and is alive today only due to the quick response of Rhett and Karen. Thank you Rhett and Karen!
Gordon Pruett woke up to his dog barking about 12:30 a.m. Outside, he saw that his 7-year-old pit bull, Harley, was growling and jumping at a large maple tree in his backyard. Getting closer, he pointed a light into the tree and saw it - the reflective eyes and 3-foot long tail of a cougar that was no more than 15 feet away from him. Vancouver police responded to the 911 call and had Gordon, his wife and their 9-year-old son evacuate. Harley kept the cougar in the tree until wildlife officials got there more than an hour later. “He’s trained to guard the house and the family, and that’s what he did,” Gordon said. “He didn’t leave his post.” Wildlife officials tranquilized and captured the older female cougar, weighing about 150 pounds, and later released her into the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Skamania County. That night, Harley saved his family and the Fircrest neighborhood from injury AND he saved the cougar - who now has a new home away from any communities. Thank you Harley!