ROC Member's Quick Action Saves Lives
Thursday, December 02, 2010
What was supposed to be a typical Saturday afternoon quickly turned into a heroic moment for Rochester controller and NATCA member Phil Deitsch when he spotted a multi-family house on fire while driving through an upstate New York neighborhood.
On Saturday, Nov. 13, Deitsch, who had been flying that morning, was driving home and passed the house, engulfed with flames – smoke billowing out of it. A woman was outside, screaming for help. There was a baby trapped inside, as were others. Without hesitation Deitsch pulled over to help. Everyone was trapped in a second-floor bedroom and Deitsch could see a woman holding an infant at the window. He was unable to find a way into the building so – with the fire department not yet on the scene – Deitsch, along with two other men who arrived on the scene, helped save the infant.
"As I ran to the house, I heard a woman screaming that there was a baby upstairs," said Deitsch. "It was a very helpless feeling to learn that there was a baby trapped in an upstairs apartment, and the only entrance was consumed by fire. I tried, but couldn't get in. I was looking for a way to reach the upstairs window, when I saw the mother hold the baby out so it could breathe. I told her not to drop the baby yet, as other people began to arrive."
Lifting one of the men up to the window, the man was able to safely take the baby from its mother. But their heroism didn’t stop there. With others still trapped inside he convinced them to use a ledge on the house’s second floor to make their way to a section of roof away from the fire.
When the fire department arrived minutes later, Deitsch stayed and helped them set up a ladder and brought them hoses in order to get the remaining tenants to safety. All 10 people were safe.
Once the victims were in safe hands Deitsch didn’t stay around for a hero’s thank you, and instead, after making sure everyone was alright, quietly walked away, got back in his car and went home.
"The attention being given to this has me more than a little uncomfortable, as I don't think I did anything significantly different than anyone else would have," Deitsch said. "I'm certain that anyone there would have exchanged their safety for that of the newborn baby or other occupants. I was inspired by them. I just found myself in an unusual set of circumstances."
Said ROC FacRep Andy Lewis, “Phil’s actions during the terrifying event are indicative of his character as a man. He demonstrates this calmness while working as an air traffic controller and as a certified pilot. I’m proud to work with him.”