The screams of a trapped resident was the first sound off-duty O’Fallon Fire Protection District (OFPD) firefighter/paramedic Matt Chapman heard when he arrived at a house fire on Wood Oaks Drive in unincorporated St. Charles County Tuesday morning around 6:30 a.m.
It was early January, rain was pouring down and temperatures were frigid when a car slid off the road into a swift-moving, quickly rising creek near the intersection of Bryan and Mexico roads. The driver escaped, but his father was trapped inside the vehicle, which was filling up with water. The father had suffered a head injury, and hypothermia was setting in.
When the call for help came in, first responders from O’Fallon Fire Protection District and the O’Fallon Missouri Police Department headed to the scene. Officer Jordan Wilmes arrived first.
On top of the man’s injuries, the rain was not letting up. The creek continued to rise. Recognizing the severity of the situation, the officer quickly jumped into the frigid creek and kept the victim’s head above water until firefighters arrived moments later.
Wilmes, alongside OFPD firefighters Doug Ellis and Matt Chapman, worked together in chest-deep water to safely get the victim out of the car. St. Charles County Ambulance District paramedics stabilized the victim and transferred him to the hospital. Moments after the rescue, the rising water overwhelmed the car, flipping it over and submerging it under water.
“We are committed to protecting our community and could not be prouder of the heroic efforts of these first responders that night,” OFPD Chief Tom Vineyard says. “Emergency response is a team effort, and we are fortunate to train with officers from the police department and paramedics from the ambulance district on a regular basis. This training makes it easier to step in and work together as a team in situations like these — it truly makes a lifesaving difference.”
O’Fallon Fire Protection District is collecting new, unwrapped toys and nonperishable food to help local families in need!
Through Dec. 12, drop off items at any OFPD station and the O’Fallon Firefighters Community Outreach team will deliver them to The Society of St. Vincent de Paul of St. Louis.