Any emergency worker responding to a call never truly knows what they’re going to walk into. Every situation is different and presents new challenges. However, while firefighters are trained to face deadly situations as well, one firefighter was completely unprepared for a recent emergency.
A home’s power had been completely cut off by the electric company, while one mother pleaded with them to turn it back on for her son’s life support.
How to respond to such a situation might never be taught—but this firefighter’s response proved that his instincts were driven by the heart.
Ryan McCuen had no idea that he was about to change lives as he stepped into Christy Stone’s residence.
On February 11th of 2016, Ryan McCuen, a seven year veteran of the Clinton Township Fire Department, in Michigan, and his partner was responding to a nonemergency medical call at a private residence. He did not have all of the details—only that a woman called seeking assistance.
When they entered the home, however, he was shocked. There was no electricity, but in the living room was a large bed with machines connected to 18-year-old Troy Stone. The boy had Duchenne muscular dystrophy and relied solely on an electric ventilator for his survival.
Meanwhile, his mother was frantically speaking on her cell phone.
“How can you deny somebody that’s on life support?” Christy Stone, Troy’s mother, told CNN.
With the power off, Troy only had about three hours of life support left.
The electric company had shut off the power due to lack of payment, and it was clear to see that the family had fallen on tough times. They often relied on friends and the local church for food and other daily necessities.
That being said, electricity was not supposed to be a problem. When a person is on life support, electric companies are supposed to keep the power on, no matter what.
But the electric company in question, DTE Energy, denied Christy’s claim, citing that a nurse, not a doctor had signed the note explaining Troy’s medical situation.
So they shut off the electricity to the entire house. This left Troy with only three hours of battery left when McCuen showed up.
“I’m going to pay your electric bill.”
“It was a no-brainer for me,” McCuen told ABC News.
Christy had only wanted McCuen to take Troy to the hospital, where he wouldn’t have to worry about the power being turned off. However, McCuen knew that the trip alone would cost the family money they did not have. So while Troy was being taken to the hospital, McCuen made his decision.
“Ryan was standing there and he looks at me and goes, ‘I’m going to pay your electric bill,’ and I was just like—are you serious!?” Christy told CNN.
Right then and there, McCuen spoke to the energy company and paid the full $1,023.76 of their electric bill.
Even better, Troy was soon able to return home and be with his loving family.
“Ryan is my hero.”
“You just have to see what we saw,” McCuen told WXYZ TV Detroit. “You have to want to help this, right?”
It happened in the nick of time, too. Troy’s life, for the time being, was saved.
“There are many, many very good human beings out there,” Christy told CNN. “No matter how bad it’s gotten. I’m still speechless. It’s like a dream. I can’t believe any of this is happening.”
Sadly, nearly a month later, Troy passed away. But the family never forgot what McCuen did for him.
And though Troy was unable to speak over a whisper, in the end, he garnered up the strength to make sure McCuen knew just how much his small act of kindness meant.
“Ryan is my hero,” Troy told CNN.