Rookie firefighter saves 2 lives in first 9 months on job

Some firefighters say they can go their entire career without personally rescuing someone from a burning building, but Anthony Valerio has only been a member of Oakland Fire Department for nine months and he's already had two rescues. 

"At people's worst day I want to be the person that's there to help them and try to make a difference," says Valerio. Last month, Valerio was on a call at an apartment complex near the intersection of Monticello and Congress Avenues, in East Oakland when he helped rescue a woman trapped inside.

"We attempted to resuscitate the patient and we went through our procedures for that and we assisted with transport," says Valerio. 

Although still on probation and a rookie with Oakland fire, Valerio has experience. He worked as a firefighter in Salinas and as an Oakland paramedic before that. 

All of Valerio's training and experience kicked in on May 13 when the crew got a call of a house on fire with someone trapped inside. 

"We were getting ready to make entry and there was somebody screaming, ‘My baby’s in there! My baby’s in there!...’" says Valerio. 

He and the rest of the crew went inside the home and looked for the child room by room. 

They say their visibility was poor and the smoke was heavy so they had to crawl into the room on the floor.  "As we continued to make our way around the room, we ended up finding the baby lying between the bed and the wall," says Valerio.

He later made his way outside the home where the rest of the team took over. "I saw him limp and I thought, ‘Oh my goodness’. I felt that grief, that overcome of grief," says Oakland Firefighter Captain Carlos Harvey.

Thanks to their quick work and what some say was an intervention from a higher being, the two-year old survived. 

"We as Oakland Fire Department came out here and affected a rescue which we've been trained to do and I'm just fortunate that the baby had a positive outcome," says Valerio. 

 

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