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Firefighters credited with saving life, preventing major fire
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The quick response of a crew of Richmond Hill Fire Department firefighters reportedly saved a man’s life and prevented a fire at Ashton Apartment’s Wednesday night.

The three crewmembers, B shift leader Lt. Michelle Meacham and firefighters Jordan Johnson and Brendon Greene, responded to a report of a fire at an apartment in the complex around 11 p.m. Wednesday, according to RHFD Chief Ralph Catlett.

A fire engine and ladder truck were dispatched, and firefighters arrived within four minutes of the call to 911 to find Richmond Hill Police Department officers standing by, fire detectors going off and smoke pouring a ground floor apartment in a two-story apartment building at the complex.

Johnson and Meacham entered the apartment after getting a key, and found a man lying unconscious on the floor in the apartment, which was filled with smoke.

“There was smoke throughout the apartment,” said Meacham, who was in command of the scene. “It went down to the floor. We couldn’t see anything at first and then found him. He was breathing maybe six times a minute, and we pulled him out of the house and into the yard and handed him off to (Greene), who began patient care.”

While Greene gave the man oxygen, Johnson and Meacham went back into the apartment to find the cause of the smoke. They found a pot burning on the stove, she said, and brought it outside and put it out. Whatever was inside the pot was unrecognizable.

Bryan County EMS arrived shortly afterward and treated the man, according to Bryan County Emergency Services Battalion Chief Matt Schultz.

Meacham, who has been a firefighter for 15 years, praised her firefighters.

“All the training we do leads up to moments like that, when seconds and minutes count,” she said. “It all comes together. It was pretty rewarding (Wednesday) night, for me and my whole crew. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Catlett said the three will be put in for awards.

“What they did probably averted a fire death and major damage to the apartments,” Catlett said. “Two more minutes and the cabinets would’ve been gone, and we would’ve had major problems then.”

Firefighters used fans to ventilate the apartment and checked for hot spots using a thermal imaging camera afterward and found only the one at the stove. After five minutes, it had gone, according to RHFD.

County ready to help

Schultz said BCES initially prepared to send out a fire truck and second ambulance to the apartment complex, because BCES crews were dispatched at the same time, and Schultz was on duty.

“As I was driving to the scene I heard Lt. Meacham on the radio saying they had a victim and they were starting the rescue. I could tell by the sound of her voice that they were wearing their air packs and thats when I knew for sure that they had something,” Schultz said in an email. “They removed him to the front lawn where he woke up and came to several minutes later. About that time myself and EMS 2 were arriving on scene. I immediately checked with Lt. Meacham to see how many victims they had and what help if any they needed. Once it was determined that we only had one patient and the ‘fire’ was not an issue I radioed my engine and second ambulance I had enroute that they could cancel. In addition I had one of our ambulances from the north end of the county on their way down to Richmond Hill to cover any additional calls since we only have two ambulances in service on each end of the county - I radioed them and canceled them too. Overall the outcome was great. The rescued man was treated initially by Richmond Hill FD and then by our ambulance crew. He refused transport to the hospital.”

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