Firefighters honored for saving woman from under bridge

Published: May. 24, 2022 at 5:30 PM EDT
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PUTNAM COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Firefighters from multiple departments are being recognized for their heroics saving a woman from under a bridge earlier this month.

On May 5, firefighters had to be lowered down off the road surface under the Nitro-St. Albans Bridge to rescue a woman who had made her way onto the catwalk and refused to move after a crash.

Nitro Fire Chief Casey Mathes said it was a high risk and low frequency response that was executed perfectly. A total of 17 firefighters from the Nitro, Teays Valley, St. Albans and Institute fire departments are being honored with unit citations for going above and beyond.

“This is something we train a lot for and don’t run a lot of,” Mathes said. “The guys put themselves in extreme danger that day to save someone in need, and this is why we are recognizing the guys for doing what they did.”

Driver crashes, climbs onto bridge catwalk; Nitro-St. Albans Bridge back open

The four departments assisted with the rope system to safely get under the bridge by working as one unit. Mathes described the area as a fire district that allows multiple fire departments to seamlessly work together in emergency situations.

“We train on numerous systems,” Mathes said. “Rope, high lines and three to one systems quite often. Obviously after that incident, we see a bigger need for more resources and to bring on a regional standpoint into the rope rescue teams that we may set up in the future.”

Teays Valley Fire Department Chief John Smoot said the departments had come together to plan for an emergency situation, including water and rope rescues, when the construction project near the bridge was announced. He said there is normally an increase in crashes and other incidents in large work zones, and the departments wanted to be prepared for whatever might happen.

“Our preparation brought the appropriate equipment to the departments that needed to beef up their equipment inventory,” Smoot said. “A lot of tactics were talked about. We know our access points on the situation and everything just paid off.”

Recognized from the Nitro Fire Department: Lieutenant Ron Harvey, Firefighter Chase Petry, Probationary Firefighter Russell Miller and Firefighter Jacob Hernandez.

Recognized from the Teays Valley Fire Department: Firefighter Dalton Moyers, Firefighter Jaden Long, Paramedic Danitta Ward, Firefighter/EMT Jacob Elswick, Firefighter/EMT Brian Ash, Firefighter/Paramedic Brad Richardson, Firefighter Andrew Kirby and Firefighter/EMT Wes Amores.

Recognized from the St. Albans Fire Department: Captain Brian Sharp, Firefighter Sean Lowe and Firefighter Chris Howell.

Recognized from Institute Fire and Rescue: Deputy Chief C.J. Scalf and Captain Ben Tissenbaum.

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