FDNY EMTs Save Woman from Burning Car
EMTs Joseph Laporte and Maxim Furman dramatically saved a woman from a burning car on May 4, due in large part to a traffic jam.
The EMTs were stuck on the Belt Parkway, returning to EMS Station 43 in Brooklyn to restock their ambulance after a large response when they heard a large boom behind their vehicle.
EMT Furman said he looked in the side mirror and saw a car jump the guardrail. And EMT Laporte said, “I saw a headlight fly past our ambulance. Car parts were rolling by as we’re sitting there.”
So they grabbed some gear and rushed toward the two heavily damaged cars that were just feet away.
One vehicle was lying on its side, while the other was pinned against the guardrail.
One victim was standing outside his vehicle and refused medical attention. Although she had a few cuts, the woman in the other vehicle said she was not badly injured. However, she could not exit her car because the door was pinned against the rail and the steering column had collapsed on her legs.
EMT Furman then went to get a backboard and neck brace for the victim, so they could safely remove her. At the same time, EMT Laporte asked the victim to hit the unlock button, so he could enter the car through the passenger side door, but it would not open.
He then started to see smoke coming from the car’s engine.
EMT Laporte knew he needed to act quickly, so he told the patient to cover herself with her coat and look away as he broke the passenger side window with his knife. The U.S. Army medic and volunteer firefighter said he knew from his training that if he struck the window in a certain way, the glass would break, but would not injure the patient. He then was able to open the door manually and reach her.
Yet as he tried to immobilize her, he heard someone yell, “The car is on fire!” and saw flames shooting from the hood.
He knew he had no time, so he grabbed the woman by her arms and pulled three times to remove her from the car, saying it was challenging due to the collapsed steering column.
As soon as her legs left the vehicle, he said fire spread to the passenger side and small explosions were heard.
Bystanders had been exiting their cars to witness what was happening, and the EMTs said they were worried the car would explode. So EMT Furman tried to keep back the flames with an extinguisher as the both yelled at everyone to evacuate the area.
EMT Furman then drove the ambulance about 50 feet down the road to safely evacuate the patient. They had been coughing and short of breath due to the high levels of smoke, so they wore oxygen masks as they continued to assess her injuries.
The victim and two EMTs were taken to Lutheran Hospital for minor injuries.
“It was crazy few hours,” EMT Furman said, indicating they were still on an adrenaline rush from the previous call when this occurred. “If I had it to do again, I wouldn’t have done anything differently. Nobody else could’ve gotten there in time to remove her [because of the heavy traffic]. It was like we were God sent at that moment.”
EMT Laporte agreed.
“I just honestly felt like I was doing my job,” EMT Laporte said. “It was amazing feeling, but I don’t feel like a hero. We were just at the right place at the right time.”