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Firefighter Stops, Drops, Saves Boy

By Shannon in News on Oct 21, 2006 2:00PM

Remember back when you were a kid, and your school had safety drills out the wazoo? Fire, tornado, nuclear blasts (for the baby boomer Chicagoist readers - we know you're out there) ... oh, the fun that was had. The safer of you might also remember being told to make up an emergency plan with your parents in case of, well, emergency. Chicagoist vaguely recollects lessons of home blueprints, exit routes, even rope ladders for multi-story buildings. Then a really annoying song would get in our head, or we'd see something shiny, and then we tended to forget all about fire safety.

Luckily we never had a fire break out on our home turf when we were little, but if one had, we would have wanted John O'Brien on our side. The heroic firefighter saved an 8-year-old boy from a burning house on the West Side early Friday morning. A fire of unknown origin started in the Austin family's home shortly after midnight. Most of the family made it out, thanks in part to two smoke detectors, but one young member was left behind. Both the boy's father and an elderly woman in the home - we're assuming a grandmother - tried to go back in to rescue him. O'Brien attempted to locate the missing kid using thermal imagery, to no avail. Then, relying on his mad search skillz, the firefighter found the boy passed out underneath a mattress on the second floor. Apparently when the fire started he had tried to hide instead of escape. Paramedics whisked him away to West Suburban Medical Center, where he is suffering from smoke inhalation but expected to make a full recovery.

Despite our rigorous school training, we can't say we blame the kid. We'd be prone to panicking too. Still, we have a feeling he'll pay a little more attention to all that rope ladder talk the next time it comes up in class.