Mason Street arson rescuer is named 'Firefighter of the Year'

tstevens@ledger-enquirer.comMay 8, 2014 

Columbus Fire & EMS Firemedic Joshua Rash receives his 'Firefighter of the Year' award from Chief Jeff Meyer during a Thursday awards ceremony. He was nominated after rescuing a 6-year-old girl from a Mason Street arson.

Ask Joshua Rash about the night he saved a 6-year-old girl from a Mason Street arson, and he'll tell you it's nothing special.

"I'm just like everybody else here," the 6-year Columbus Fire and Emergency Medical Services veteran said Thursday. "Anybody else would have done the same thing."

But his actions — coaxing a scared child out from under bedsheets and rushing her to safety — led the department to name Rash 'Firefighter of the Year' during a Thursday morning awards ceremony.

On Jan. 17, firefighters responded to a blaze at 2062 Mason Street, a residence that housed almost a dozen people. Officials initially believed all residents made it out. During a sweep, however, they found the 6-year-old girl in a bedroom hiding under the covers.

"That's what children do," Deputy Chief Greg Lang said during Thursday's ceremony. "They get scared by the smoke and the fire, and they hide in a familiar location."

Had Rash not located the girl, officials felt certain that the child would have perished.

"When I see you and the folks see you, you're a great example of the morals and values of this department," Chief Jeff Meyer said during his congratulation of Rash, who also received a valor commendation for his actions. "We had five or six nominations for this award and (Rash) was overwhelmingly chosen."

Rash was one of dozens honored during Thursday morning's ceremony, which recognized paramedics and firefighters alike for brave acts taken in 2013. The department recognized individual stations and EMS squads for 11 incidents in which lives were rescued.

Lane described during the program one such incident, in which medics and firefighters from Station 10 helped a prematurely-born infant start breathing again after they were called to a Kendrick Avenue address on Nov. 15, 2013.

"They found the mother in the bathroom, who said she was 5-months pregnant and just had the baby," Lang said. "They found the baby lying on the floor, covered in a towel, with no umbilical cord attached. The baby was motionless and appeared not to be breathing at the time."

Firemedic William Pflugrad moved the baby to the ambulance and began performing CPR. After five to seven minutes, the baby began breathing on its own. The mother was later transported to Midtown Medical Center.

The department also recognized employee loyalty and performance during the ceremony. Thirty-three employees were recognized for at least five years spent driving without an accident; 66 were honored for at least five years of service.

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson praised the department Thursday for their bravery and friendly service toward the community.

"The department that gets the most compliments for their service, hands down, is the Fire Department," she said. "I'm in awe of what you do."

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