175th Wing Fire Department helps rescue local man from frigid water

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Chris Schepers
  • 175th Wing

Maryland Air National Guard firefighters teamed up with the Baltimore County Fire Department to rescue a man who fell into frigid water in a community near Martin State Air National Guard Base, December 1, 2023.

The 175th Wing fire department responded to a call for mutual aid at a pier at Safe Harbor Marina in Bowleys Quarters, Md., at approximately 1:23 a.m. early Saturday morning. Upon arrival at the scene, a 65-year-old man was found in the water clinging to a ladder. The man was hypothermic with an altered level of consciousness.

In response, BCoFD Station 21 deployed rescue swimmers and the 175th Wing firefighters donned personal floatation devices before entering the water to assist in the extraction of the victim. The firefighters and rescue swimmers were able to get the man onto a backboard, lift him onto nearby boat, and then utilized the boat’s ladder as a cantilever to hoist the man onto the pier.

The 175th Wing firefighters initiated and maintained patient care until the man could be transferred to BCoFD Medic 54, which then transported him to the hospital.

“Saving a life is the most important and rewarding part of a career in emergency services,” said Jason Hearne, 175th Wing Fire Department fire chief. “Nobody ever calls the fire department when they are having a good day; we are called in someone’s moment of crisis. We can be counted on to bring calm to a chaotic situation. Our 175th Fire and Emergency Services fire fighters did exactly what they train to do and helped save someone’s life, and as a fire chief I could not be more proud.”

The firefighters of the 175th Wing belong to an organization that is an all-hazards agency that responds to, on average, approximately 250 emergencies per year on Martin State Air National Guard Base and the non-military airfield at Martin State Airport. They also have a mutual-aid agreement with local fire stations that allows them to respond to, on average, approximately 250 mutual-agreement calls per year in the local community.

“The 175th Fire and Emergency Services provide the Baltimore County Fire Department a highly trained and well equipped 24-hour staffed fire station possessing additional fire apparatus to better serve the citizens of the Middle River and Bowley’s Quarters communities,” said Hearne. “Most importantly, these communities are primarily served by volunteer fire companies. The 175th is uniquely positioned to bring additional staff and resources to greatly enhance incident safety and successful outcomes by complementing the dedicated local volunteer firefighters.”

To maintain peak readiness, the 175th firefighters routinely train with their mutual-aid partners and maintain training standards that are required by the Department of Defense and U.S. Air Force. At the time of the response to this mutual-aid call, the members of the 175th Fire Department who were not on a scheduled shift participated in Operation Frosty Strike, a four-day readiness exercise at Martin State Airport.

According to Hearne, the all-hazards agency training in many skill sets is “the bedrock to safe and effective delivery of emergency services” as his firefighters undergo hundreds of hours of certification training and continuing education.

As long as a federal flying mission remains at Martin State Airport, the 175th Wing will be able to maintain their “highly skilled and experienced” firefighting capabilities, said Maryland Air National Guard Col. Richard Hunt, 175th Wing commander. He continued, “we want to continue serving the citizens in this community just as we have done for over 100 years.”

“The premium that our team puts on advanced training to keep our members prepared for any situation is something that our community can be proud of,” said Hunt. “Whether our firefighters are responding to an incident on base or in the local community, they are well-prepared and dedicated to providing our community with expeditious and professional emergency services support.”