Two passerby see cars go up in flames, but what they do—it’s the type of people they are

"It doesn’t matter if they’re in uniform or not. He still went in and did his job.”
March 7, 2018 9:47 am Last Updated: March 7, 2018 9:49 am

Everyone has dreamt that they were the hero in a deadly situation. In reality, putting your life on the line is far more difficult a decision than most people realize. Some of us are different, though, and thankfully these brave people’s heroism and courage saves lives.

When two men saw the smoke and flames from a three-way collision, they knew they had to act fast.

(Facebook/Lisa Desharnais Ireson)

On February 27 at around 6 p.m., off-duty Salem, New Hampshire, firefighter Michael Galipeau was driving home a different route to usual when he saw the towering smoke plumes emanating from further down the road; there had been a terrible car crash involving three cars, one of which was now engulfed in flames.

“We know it was a head-on crash,” Windham Fire Chief Thomas McPherson Jr. told the Union Leader. “We don’t know if one vehicle crossed over the median and hit the other vehicle coming on, or if the vehicle went to the opposite side of the median and went the wrong way.”

But in the moment, how it happened was not important. The fact was that people’s lives were on the line. Knowing the situation was dire, Galipeau, and another passerby, Steve Collins, felt a deep compulsion to help.

They did not care about their own safety—without hesitation, the two men rushed headlong into the flames.

Posted by Windham Fire Department and Emergency Management on Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The men arrived on the scene and quickly got to work. Though they had no protective equipment, they rushed towards the burning vehicle to rescue the driver. With the help of knife handed to them by another passerby, Galipeau was able to cut the woman’s seatbelt and pull her to safety through the window, according to the Union Leader.

“At that point, we were able to remove her to safety probably about 50 feet away,” Galipeau told the Union Leader. “Shortly thereafter several people made it be known that there was someone else in a truck that was in close proximity to the car that was on fire.”

By the time fire crews arrived, all three of the drivers were safe.

They were then transported to different hospitals. Each had varying degrees of injury, but incredibly Galipeau continued to help one of the victims; he accompanied them in one of the ambulances and assisted in the treatment of their wounds.

Thanks to this firefighter and the passersby, no lives were lost.

Thanks to their heroic actions, these people are expected to make a full recovery.

“The outcome was the way it was because they stepped in and helped out,” McPherson told the Union Leader. “If it wasn’t for them, the outcome could have been much worse. It doesn’t surprise me that a firefighter was going by and stopped to help—that’s what they do.”

Galipeau was given treatment for smoke inhalation, but was later released from the hospital and was reportedly doing ok.

To those who know the firefighter in question, his commitment to service was not surprising.

“He’s a fantastic firefighter, a great person,” Salem Fire Chief Paul Parisi told the Union Leader. “I think that 24/7, they are firefighters and it doesn’t matter if they’re in uniform or not. He still went in and did his job.”

But like any good hero, Galipeau credits the success to the other people who also helped with the rescue.

“Good teamwork, it all worked out … it would have been a different outcome if [they weren’t there],” he told the Union Leader during a press conference.

Risking your life is not an easy decision to make, but thankfully these men had the courage to make the right choice.

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Posted by Lisa Desharnais Ireson on Tuesday, February 27, 2018