Detroit paramedics rescue man from burning car

Survival down to a choice between life or limb
Posted at 10:48 PM, Oct 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-04 23:20:32-04

A man trapped in a burning car early Monday was saved by paramedics in Detroit just moments before the car erupted in flames.

The dramatic rescue happened less than a mile from Medic 9 headquarters at the intersection of Central and Dix. The paramedics arrived before the first fire engine.

"It's pretty rare that the vehicle actually catches on fire and we don't have an engine on scene," said paramedic Jason Cornell who responded to the scene with his partner Jason Hawkins.

"We were in the right place at the right time. If we were busy at that time and another ambulance would have taken significantly longer to get there. So everything just lined up for that man," Hawkins said.

The man was trapped in a burning SUV that crashed under an overpass. With the fire engine still minutes away-- Hawkins used the fire extinguisher in the ambulance to attack the flames while Cornell worked to free the victim.

"He was pinned in pretty good and his legs were, his legs were in there," Cornell said.

The extinguisher was soon empty and the flames re-ignited, putting the victim perilously close to burning to death.

"When he was in the vehicle the whole time he was just pleading don't let me burn, " Hawkins said.

Survival came down to a choice between life or limb.

"I basically said brace yourself this is going to hurt. And he said I don't care get me out of here," Cornell said.

So the paramedics pulled-- hard. The victim's pain was excruciating, but he was soon free and not a minute too soon.

"I looked back and there's flames actually shooting out of the windows and the vehicle fully ignited," Cornell said.

A fire engine arrived after the man was rescued and out the flames. The victim suffered burns to his feet and some fractured bones, but is expected to recover.

Hawkins and Cornell are being praised for their determination to save his life.

"We kind of made the decision that we were going to get him out," Hawkins said.