Fully Exposed – Day 26

Posted by on April 26, 2014

What I did yesterday …


St. Paul father, son rescued from burning apartment fire, treated by onsite ER team
By Kristi Belcamino
POSTED: 04/25/2014 12:01:00 AM CDT | UPDATED: ABOUT 7 HOURS AGO

Firefighters and emergency room doctors who rushed to an apartment fire might have made a life-or-death difference for an unconscious father and his toddler son.

The pair were pulled from the bathroom of their apartment after firefighters doused the flames Friday morning, officials said.

The blaze, sparked by an electrical space heater left too close to a couch, broke out at 10:19 a.m. in a third-floor apartment in the 12-unit building in the 1800 block of East Seventh Street, said St. Paul Fire Marshal Steve Zaccard.

The Regions Hospital emergency room doctors were a few blocks away when they heard the call and rushed to the scene, arriving even before the ambulance crews. They are part of a team that works with the St.Paul Fire Department to respond to emergency calls.

By the time the father and son were rushed from the building, the doctors had their equipment ready to treat them.

“They were rescued right away, and having ER physicians on scene meant they received the best care they could have, giving them the best possible chance of survival,” Zaccard said.

“A 30- to 60-second delay could’ve been a whole different story,” said Dr. Bjorn Peterson, one of the Regions doctors at the scene.

When firefighters brought the victims out, both were unresponsive, Regions spokeswoman Ashley Burt said. The child, Fred Stewart Jr., 3, was revived at the scene, she said.

The boy and his father, Fred Stewart Sr., were listed in fair condition Friday afternoon, Burt said.

The boy’s sister, Trawanda Harris, 19, said he was eating and drinking but still on an IV and using oxygen. The elder Stewart was sedated and unable to talk, Harris said.

“When they are unresponsive, every minute counts in getting them back,” Burt said.


Assistant Fire Chief Jim Smith said the fire broke out near the front door. He said firefighters using a thermal imaging camera quickly found the pair in the bathroom, where they had taken refuge.

“Using that lets them quickly distinguish between a body and a pile of clothing,” Smith said. “It makes a huge difference in the amount of time it takes to find somebody.”

Zaccard said firefighters extinguished the blaze within minutes of their arrival.

A neighbor, Rose Eichele, said the child’s mother was at the grocery store when the fire started. “The mother had just come home and walked up and went straight to her baby, more stunned than anything,” she said.

Neighbors ran through the building, knocked on doors and screamed for residents to get out.

“I went upstairs, saying ‘Where’s the baby?’ But the smoke was too strong; it was black smoke and I’m pregnant and was worried breathing the smoke would hurt my baby,” said Melisa Moe, who lives on the second floor.

“We were yelling for them to break the window to get out.”

Yolanda Cyrus went door to door, alerting tenants on the second floor. “At first people didn’t believe me and waited a little bit before they came out,” she said.

Burt said a unit within the hospital monitors emergency calls, then dispatches the ER team to calls where they think the doctors can help most.

“I do believe it made a difference to be on scene,” Peterson said.

Peterson and Dr. R.J. Frascone were awarded the Meritorious Service Award last year for going into a burning building to care for a victim.

“The patient had no pulse and wasn’t breathing,” Burt said. “Dr. Frascone directed life-saving efforts while Dr.Peterson put a tube into her windpipe and a firefighter performed CPR in order to get her breathing again. After five minutes, she had a pulse.”

Friday’s fire was confined to the one apartment, Zaccard said.

Harris said she lost all her belongings in the fire.

“We are basically just a family struggling on the East Side and our house is burned down and we’ve lost everything,” Harris said. “We have nothing now.”


Check out my partner in crime’s progress on this project, here (Matthew Clemens website) and on his Facebook page.

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