Seymour firefighters recognized for life-saving efforts

Once Seymour firefighters arrived at the scene of a house fire April 11, heavy smoke was coming out of the eaves of the home.

Firefighter Elijah Toborg said his initial thought was “It’s time to go to work.”

Once he and fellow firefighters Joseph “Joey” Murphy and Cam Shoemaker opened the front door of the house at 4612 Ashwood Drive, they walked straight toward the back where the living room was located. That’s where the fire originated, Seymour Fire Department Chief Brad Lucas said.

When the fire was extinguished, the firefighters walked past the kitchen and down a hallway. In the first bedroom, they found an unconscious man lying on the floor, so they radioed that information to other firefighters.

Adler Ramsay and James Murphy were at the bedroom window to take the victim to Teia Thomas and Nicholas Shaw from Jackson County Emergency Medical Services.

“We’ve worked with them a lot, too, and they did an excellent job,” Lucas said. “They started CPR immediately. We got our Lucas device out, which does compressions.”

The man was then transported to Schneck Medical Center in Seymour and had a pulse at that point. From there, he was flown to Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis.

“He had some burns on him,” Lucas said. “He was on a ventilator up there for a week. I heard like a week or maybe a few days longer than that, he was off the vent, did not remember the incident and was breathing on his own. They were treating his burns.”

On Monday, Anthony Walker with SFD said he talked to the family and learned the man was doing very well with his rehab at Hancock Regional Hospital’s rehabilitation center.

That night at the Seymour City Council meeting, the council chambers at city hall was full of SFD personnel as Lucas and Mayor Matt Nicholson presented life-saving awards to Toborg, Joey Murphy and Shoemaker. The plaques recognized their heroic actions and life-saving efforts, and the firefighters received a big round of applause.

“It was just a great team effort. It worked, and the guys did an outstanding job. I could go on and on about what a great job it was,” Lucas said. “All in all, it was just a highly professional team effort.”

The team effort actually started with Seymour Police Department Officer Joshua Daniel, who lives near the home.

“He got up there, saw the smoke, actually called in to dispatch, kind of assessed the house and decided he didn’t want to go in there. It was that much fire in there. It had smoke coming out everywhere and was a pretty good fire,” Lucas said. “Then he gave us some information en route that was very helpful. That helped us assess that situation.”

The home is part of the newly annexed area of Seymour, and Lucas said it took firefighters at nearby Station 3 less than 2 minutes to get there once the call was made.

He said Ladder 3 happened to have four firefighters at that time.

“That’s our goal,” he said. “It’s not always the case, and that’s something we need to work on, but we’ll get there someday.”

Marty Overshiner was the lieutenant, Craig Flinn was the driver and Toborg and Joey Murphy were on board. Engine 1 from Station 1 also was there, including Shoemaker on board. Firefighters from Station 2 responded, too.

Toborg, Murphy and Shoemaker immediately entered the home.

“I knew we had to get the fire knocked down to be able to get a search done,” Toborg said. “I was on the end of the nozzle, Joey Murphy was behind me, Lt. Overshiner was feeding hose to us, Flinn was pumping truck. We got the fire knocked down and continued a rapid primary search.”

Toborg said God guided them directly to the man in the bedroom.

“There is no other explanation for it,” he said. “In that specific house, there were about seven individual rooms somebody could have been, and we were led directly to the patient. If that isn’t a God thing, then I don’t know what is.”

Murphy quickly started assessment of the man, and then he, Toborg and Shoemaker lifted the victim up out of window, where the outside crew took over.

“We get to work alongside Jackson County EMS every day, and they are amazing heroes. They save lives every day,” Toborg said. “I have seen Jackson County EMS countless times save patients’ lives, and I knew the victim was in the best hands anybody could ask for.”

Toborg said the teamwork was amazing, and everyone did their part.

“There is no better guys to work with. You couldn’t ask for a better team than the one Chief Lucas put together,” he said. “We have some great leaders within this department and throughout our city. It is an honor and privilege to be able to serve this community.”

Murphy noted the teamwork, too.

“It was awesome to see everyone working together to save the guy’s life,” he said. “We had a great response from all agencies involved. EMS and B shift crew did an amazing job.”

While he was honored to be recognized Monday night, Toborg said the true honor goes to God.

“Our father, he is our one true savior,” he said. “I am extremely blessed to be able to serve as a firefighter to this great community, and I owe it all to him.”

Lucas said about a year ago, firefighters and EMS personnel trained for this type of scenario at the training facility in the Freeman Field Industrial Park, so what they learned then made a difference on April 11.