Small Town Hero Saves Life During Rio Dell’s Busiest Weekend; Postal Worker Warns Neighbors of Fire Danger
Fire trucks and law enforcement led the parade which started around noon. Local kids waved from the back of fire engines at the crowd. Meanwhile, a new postal delivery worker, Kodi Baker who has been on the job less than two months, was delivering mail on Ash Street in Rio Dell. She went to the door of a home and, according to her supervisor Katherine Coleman, could hear the snapping and cracking of a fire.
Quickly, she called 911 and reported the situation. Then, according to Coleman, “She went door to door notifying neighbors of the danger while waiting for the fire department to arrive.”
When the call came, the fire trucks loaded with children were only about four blocks away from the fire. “The parade stopped,” explained Assistant Rio Dell Chief Ryan Heussler. Quickly the crew unloaded the kids. The Chief’s daughter, Jayden Wilson, stayed with the approximately 15 kids while the rest of the crew raced to the scene where smoke billowed from a home on Ash Street.
Heussler explained they had been to the home a couple of weeks earlier in order to help lift a paraplegic man who had fallen so they knew that the man could be trapped.
“The smoke was banked down to about five feet off the floor,” Heussler said. “[The Chief, Shane Wilson,] was down on his hands and knees…When I got there Shane looked at me….[He] was about five feet inside.”
Heussler said they could hear a man yelling for help. “The room that was on fire was between the front door and the victim,” Heussler said. “I grabbed one of the BA’s [a device that provides oxygen so firefighters can breathe while in smokey conditions]….I looked back to see if anyone coming. The guys were getting geared up.”
Chief Wilson didn’t yet have his device on, said Heussler. But, when Heussler looked back at his Chief, the man had disappeared into the smoke. “[Chief Wilson] just made that split second decision to make access…He had the courage to get that guy. He put his life on the line to save the life of a guy he didn’t even know.”
Then, in a short time, Heussler said, “[The Chief] came barreling through the house with that guy in his arms…I swear it was like a movie the way he was coming out of the smoke carrying this guy.”
When Chief Wilson reached Heussler, he and one of the Fire Captains, Ben Heyda, carried the victim outside. “Shane got the guy to me,” Heussler said. “[Hayda] helped me continue the work that Shane started.”
Then while Wilson, a firefighter for Rio Dell for over 21 years, was treated for smoke inhalation, he continued to direct the firefighting, Heussler said.
The victim was taken to the hospital and was also treated for smoke inhalation. The cause of the fire was “electrical related,” Heussler said.
“Hands down, without Shane there, that guy would have lost his life,” Heussler said. “His courage saved that guy’s life.”
According to Heussler, “[Chief Wilson’s] just a hell of a guy. He doesn’t take the credit that he deserves. He has been a mentor in my life.”
After putting out the fire, the crew then went back to Wildwood Days and helped. “We’ve done a lot of things together,” said Heussler. “Holy cow, I hope we never have to do this again.”
Coleman, the postal supervisor said that Kodi Baker has been nominated for a postal service hero award. We, here at the Redheaded Blackbelt, think both Baker and Wilson deserve recognition for their quick thinking and brave actions.