Rescuing a child from a burning building in time to save her life would be a career-defining achievement for any fire fighter/paramedic. For Jordan Spears, the save felt familiar.
That’s because Spears and other members of North Las Vegas Local 1607 had trained repeatedly for this exact scenario: arriving on scene to a burning building with smoke billowing on an upper floor, a family member screaming that a child is trapped somewhere inside.
Spears and his Local 1607 brothers and sisters were prepared for the emergency dispatch call that came in at 8:25 a.m. Saturday, March 20, reporting a multi-unit building in flames with someone believed to be trapped inside.
“This call didn’t feel like anything new. We have been training for just this scenario since the fire academy. We are trained to handle stress and move quickly and do our jobs,” says Spears, now six years on the job.
Training and sheer speed saved five-year-old Maleyah, whom Spears and first-in Captain Gary Polk discovered face down on an upper floor not breathing and covered in soot. Spears and Polk swiftly brought her out of the burning building and attempted to revive the child. Paramedics were waiting just outside.
For Spears and Polk, just locating the girl felt like it took a long and frustrating period of time.
In fact, fire fighters arrived on scene within five minutes of dispatch and six minutes later, the child was in an ambulance. By minute 21, she was at a hospital and on a ventilator.
Teamwork and trust also played important roles in the success of the response. Searching through the apartment, Spears ducked under the fire blowing out of a laundry room to get to the child. He took this action trusting that his partner behind him would douse the fire with a hose so fire fighters and the child would not be trapped inside.
“Today, a young girl is safe and with her family because of the swiftness, professionalism and training of these dedicated young fire fighters,” says 9th District Vice President-Elect Mike Frainier. “This is what they trained for and they were ready. I am so proud of their dedication.”
Spears says he was not fully aware of Maleyah’s recovery until a few days later when he and other fire fighters received a call from her mother, who also put the girl on the phone. “Her voice was a little raspy, but she said thank you and we invited her and her mom to the firehouse to celebrate when they are ready,” says Spears.
For Spears, the rescue was a positive outcome to what had been an extremely tough shift. Earlier in the shift, Spears and his colleagues had responded to two calls involving young girls who did not survive.
“Next thing I know, I am heading into a building to try and save another child, just hoping we would get to her in time and have a good outcome,” says Spears.