First responders returning from firefighter's funeral rescue woman in burning car

Prince George's County emergency personnel were on their way home from funeral services for slain firefighter/medic Lieutenant John "Skillet" Ulmschneider when they rescued an unresponsive woman from the driver's seat of a burning car.

Assistant Fire Chief with Prince George's County, Darren Ware, who was assigned to coordinate mutual aid while the funeral was in progress, was driving through Brandywine when he saw fire and smoke coming from the underside of a vehicle off the side of Route 301 near Brandywine Road. When he got closer and saw a woman still in the driver's seat he pulled over and ran to the vehicle, PGFD Chief Spokesperson Mark Brady described in a blog post on Thursday.

Retired PGFD Deputy Fire Chief Tyrone Wells, who was also traveling home from the funeral, jumped right into action with Chief Ware.

Ware described what happened next, "I immediately ran to the vehicle and attempted to open the door and remove her from the driver door. The door was locked. The occupant looked up at me but was not responsive to my instructions to unlock the door. Chief Wells arrived at that time and with the help of a civilian carrying a heavy hand tool managed to break the driver's side back window and the passenger side front window."

Mark Brady, a spokesperson for the Prince George's County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department says that the female driver appeared to be suffering from a medical incident and was not cohesive enough to follow instructions from rescuers.

During the rescue attempt, Brady says the driver pushed the accelerator which caused the burning car to go down an embankment and prevent extradition from the driver's side of the vehicle.

"Because of the new angle of the vehicle access was attempted through the passenger side front door,," said Ware. "I was able to gain access to the patient and pull her through the passenger side window. We were able to get her up the embankment and away from the burning vehicle."

Other department members returning from the funeral services also stopped to help, Brady said. Assistant Fire Chief Paul Cruz and a Greenbelt Volunteer Firefighter stopped and provided care to the patient until the arrival of Medics.

The woman was not injured in the incident, but appeared to have suffered from an unknown medical incident.

"Had it not been for the quick actions of Assistant Fire Chief Ware, Tyrone Wells and a yet to be identified Good Samaritan citizen the outcome would have had a tragic ending," Brady said.