FF Stephen Maly, FF Michael Agusta, FF George Mueller, FF Kevin Mohr
The morning of August 9th 2016 started out routine for the members of TL138 but would end up anything but routine. The incoming for the day tour was six with one detail to E319. Probationary Firefighter Edwin Rodriguez took his first detail to E319 leaving TL138 with five members with a minimum of 10 years on the job. This experience would prove valuable later on in the tour.
Firefighter Sean O’Rourke was assigned the Chauffeur position along with Firefighter Mike Agosta the Roof Man, Firefighter George Mueller the OVM, Firefighter Stephen Maly the Irons, Firefighter Kevin Mohr the Can Man and Barry Harpur covering Lieutenant.
Bronx 2nd alarm was transmitted and TL138 was assigned to relocate to the quarters of TL41 on White Plaines Road. TL138 arrived in the Bronx and assumed the role of TL41 covering their response area. After a couple of hours in the Bronx, the members of TL138 were given a ticket to return from relocation.
Enroute back to their firehouse, TL138 came to the intersection of Westchester Ave. and Waters Place. Westchester Ave. is a roadway with elevated subway tracks with numerous support columns in the roadway supporting the tracks above.
Firefighter Sean O’Rourke, TL138’s Chauffeur, was heading south on Waters Place making a left turn onto Westchester Ave. Suddenly there was a loud noise and impact which caused the members on the backstep to be jerked around. The Fire Truck came to a stop and the members knew they had gotten into some kind of accident. As the members on the backstep regained their bearings, they realized that they hit the support column and that Firefighter O’Rourke was injured and not moving.
Lieutenant Harpur immediately seeing the severity of the situation, gave an urgent over the department radio asking for further assistance. The members on the backstep got off the rig and came to the driver’s side door where they saw the door was crushed up against the column and Firefighter O’Rourke’s arm entrapped between the door and the column. Blood was pouring from the area of O’Rourke’s left arm and time was of the essence to try and control the bleeding and extricate their colleague from the Fire Truck.
Firefighter Maly immediately realized the need to try and control the bleeding. He jumped up into the front cab behind Firefighter O’Rourke. A gaping wound was visible on Firefighter O’Rourke’s lower left arm. Firefighter Maly applied direct pressure to the wound. This seemed to have no effect as blood continued to flow from his arm. Firefighter Maly attempted to apply a tourniquet only to discover an even greater wound to Firefighter O’Rourke’s left shoulder. Firefighter O’Rourke’s left arm was nearly severed and it was now a race to save his life. Firefighters Mueller and Firefighter Mohr quickly got the Hurst tool as it was clear that the driver’s door needed to be mechanically separated in order to free Firefighter O’Rourke’s arm.
Firefighter Agosta prepared the door from the street. He cleared debris while creating a large purchase needed for Hurst tool to quickly free Firefighter O’Rourke’s arm. Both Firefighter Agosta and Firefighter Maly continued to talk to Firefighter Sean assuring him that he would be ok.
Firefighter Mueller and Firefighter Mohr then began operating the Hurst tool. Firefighter Mueller used the spreaders to separate the door from the column. With Firefighter O’Rourke’s arm now free and with Firefighter Maly continuing to try and control bleeding, Firefighter O’Rourke was removed from the vehicle and to the street. The injuries to Firefighter O’Rourke were severe and his arm was literally dangling by muscle, tissue and tendons.
At this time the first of the resources began to arrive. Firefighter O’Rourke was quickly packaged by the first arriving EMS unit and quickly transported. Firefighter Maly rode with Firefighter O’Rourke to the hospital continuing to provide mental and emotional support.
The EMT’s notified their dispatch that they were transporting a member of service to Jacobi Medical Center with severe trauma. Twice EMS dispatch informed them not to transport to Jacobi and that they were to transport Firefighter O’Rourke to a trauma center further away. The EMTs refused their order and informed dispatch that they were transporting to Jacobi and to have a trauma team ready. Their decision, along with actions of the members of TL138, saved the life of Firefighter Sean O’Rourke.
Firefighter O’Rourke had lost so much blood that is was a race to save his life and eventually his arm.
The members of TL138 operated under extreme duress in extricating their colleague and friend. The quick and decisive actions of the members of TL138 saved the life and arm of Firefighter O’Rourke .
Firefighter O’Rourke spent months in the hospital undergoing numerous surgeries and grafting. Firefighter O’Rourke has spent the past 9 months working hard through a grueling physical therapy routine to not only regain the use of his left arm, but tremendous function as well. There is no doubt that Firefighter O’Rourke will come back to work and ride the firetruck as a full duty Firefighter in TL138.