A Pennsylvania fire chief has become an overnight internet hero after he saved a man from a burning car, according to USA Today.
Dash cam footage showing Volunteer Fire Chief Nate Tracey hop out of his vehicle and race towards a car engulfed in flames was uploaded on York Township Fire Department’s Facebook page Monday night, where it has gone on to be viewed more than 650,000 times at the time of writing.
When the fire chief, one of the earliest responders, reached the scene of the accident, he could not find the patient.
“I scanned the whole area, thinking, ‘Where’s the patient at?’ ” Tracey said.
After Tracey didn’t see anyone on the ground near the vehicle, he gathered the victim must still be inside the smoking car.
Forgetting protocol, Tracey just grabbed his coat, and rushed towards the car. With the fire raging, the fire chief did not have time to put on all his gear.
Once he opened the car’s door, he could tell the man was not entangled in the vehicle’s wreckage.
Watch the fire chief save a man’s life by clicking on the video below.
Although the internet showered the fire chief with praise, Nate Tracey — a firefighting veteran of 27 years — refused to take credit for saving the man’s life, pointing out that what he did was standard procedure.
“I leaned in and just pulled him out. That’s the standard fire service drag… The adrenaline certainly helped.”
According to Fox‘s Pennsylvania affiliate, Greg Fabie, a resident of York, was driving his car when an untoward distraction made him swerve and crash into a utility pole. The car immediately caught fire, and Fabie lost consciousness as a result of striking his head against the windshield.
But fire chief Nate Tracey, who works for Goodwill Fire Company, reached the scene of the accident soon and took it upon himself to save Fabie’s life, whom he can be seen dragging across the road, away from the burning vehicle in the picture below.
Greg Fabie is recovering and was listed in satisfactory condition at York Hospital on Monday afternoon.
Speaking to YDR, Lt. Matt Leonard — Nate Tracey’s colleague — said that although firefighters train on rescues like the one Tracey pulled off, they are pretty rare and can sometimes prove to be extremely difficult, especially because of the dead weight of the victims in such cases.
“I’ve been in the fire service for 14 years, and I can only ever remember two times when I was on the scene for an mva (motor vehicle accident) with entrapment and fire. This was a true life emergency.
“Personally, I’ve never had to make a rescue in a situation like that. But your average 180 pound person, when they’re dead weight, it’s a tremendous amount of weight. I’ve done it in training and it’s difficult.”
Engine Lieutenant Zachary Senft and his crew soon arrived at the scene of the accident, but saw the fire chief providing first aid to the victim. Having watched the video now, Senft has been left extremely impressed.
“[Nate Tracey] just likes doing the job. He doesn’t want any publicity out of it. We all. That’s all we want is to run calls and do what we are trained to do.”
This is probably not the first time that a fire chief, or an officer, has risked his own life to save a man from dying, and for all the times men in uniform are criticized for their perceived lack of sensitivity, this should be the one time where they are hailed for their heroism.
[Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images]