Two Scott heroes rescue strangers in need

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Steve Horton
  • 375th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
A house fire and an apparent heart attack while driving could have been fatal had it not been for the heroic acts of two Scott airmen.

Tech. Sgt. Tim Schodorf of the 375 Maintenance Squadron and 1st Lt. J'Wana Fletcher of the 375th Medical Group helped rescue strangers recently.

In the first rescue, Schodorf rushed into a burning, smoke-filled house in Belleville, Ill., and assisted and elderly woman to safety.

He and his wife were driving near their home when they saw smoke coming out of a house and pulled over to help.

"When we pulled over, we could see the back rooms were totally engulfed in flames," said Schodorf. "I've seen the woman working in her yard before, so I just ran in to help."

When the Schodorfs arrived, there was another man trying to dial 9-1-1, but he was having problems with his phone, according to the sergeant.

"I didn't really think about it; I threw my cell phone to my wife and ran into the house," he said. "There was so much smoke that I ran into the wall at first and had to drop to the floor and call out for her."

After locating the woman, Schodorf helped her out of the burning house and to the safety of a neighbor's home.

He later learned the elderly woman had fallen a week earlier and hurt herself. That is why she was having trouble getting out of the house.

"I've never been one to stand around," he said. "If something needs to be done, I just do it. I didn't really think about it until after I got her out."

"I was a little scared when he ran into the house," said Teresa Schodorf. "But, that's the kind of person he is. I was just hoping he would get to anyone in the house ... before it collapsed."

The fire began when a lamp fell over and caught a mattress on fire, completely gutting the home. But, thanks to Schodorfs actions, the woman escaped unharmed.

During another recent incident, a truck moving erratically on Interstate 64 suddenly veered out of control and into on-coming traffic. Fletcher knew the driver was in serious trouble.

The driver had suffered an apparent heart attack and was motionless when Fletcher, an emergency room nurse, and her husband, Michael, arrived.

Her medical training immediately kicked in, and they removed the driver from the truck while maintaining cervical spine precautions. After placing him on the ground, she determined he did not have a pulse and was not breathing.

"My husband and I performed two-person CPR to assist the patient in regaining a heart beat," she said. "The medics arrived just as the heart beat was regained and did a quick-look on the monitor and found the patient was in a dangerous (heart) rhythm."

The paramedics were able to shock the truck driver into a stable rhythm, transfer him to Scott's emergency room and then to Barnes Hospital in St. Louis. Fletcher credits, in part, her Air Force training for preparing her to handle situations like this one.

"I have learned a greater sense of commitment and dedication to my community, how to adapt to unexpected situations and to stay flexible to the needs of the surrounding environment," she said.

When the word "hero" was brought up, Fletcher tried to distance herself from the term.

"We just did what we were supposed to do as health care providers, Christians and members of the community," she said. "It's just the type of people my husband and I have always been. If you need us, we will be there for you. We couldn't live with ourselves if we didn't do what we could to help someone in need."

Thanks to the Fletchers providing aid to someone in need, the truck driver made a full recovery.