Deputy Arturo Ramirez

(San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, California)

On June 15, 2013, Deputy Arturo Ramirez was dispatched to an apartment fire in Victorville, California. When he arrived, he saw that there were multiple apartments on fire, and he asked dispatch to have the fire department to expedite its response and requested that more deputies be dispatched to assist with the evacuation of the residents.  

Deputy Ramirez was then advised by several residents that people were trapped inside the second floor of an apartment. He saw that the apartment was fully engulfed in flames and smoke and determined that the fire was spreading too quickly for him to wait for the fire department to arrive. He immediately ran up the stairs to the apartment and found so much smoke that he could hardly see. Through the thick smoke, he was able to make out feet and ankles in the corner of the room. Taking a deep breath, Deputy Ramirez rushed inside the apartment and grabbed a woman who was holding a 5-month-old baby. Next to her was an 11-year-old girl clutching a toddler. Despite the extreme smoke conditions, Deputy Ramirez successfully guided them all to the exit and down the stairs.  

At this point, the rescued victims explained that they were having a sleepover party and that another little girl was trapped inside. With burning eyes and labored breathing, Deputy Ramirez did not know if he could go back in, but then he saw a pair of tiny hands pounding on the second-story window. This removed all doubt from his mind. Deputy Ramirez took a deep breath and ran back into the smoke-filled apartment to search for the girl. He found her in the front of the apartment, cradled her in a “bear hug,” and ran down the stairs, where he handed her over to the firefighters who arrived on scene. The child was treated on scene by the fire department and ambulance personnel and reunited with her family.

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