When a Mount Airy Fire Department member and a city police officer showed up at a home on West Lebanon Street in early September, the men thought they were responding to a medical call.
But that turned out to be a full-fledged emergency situation with an elderly woman trapped inside the burning structure, which led to her rescue by Fire Engineer Steve Everett and Officer Garrett Boles of the Mount Airy Police Department.
Though that happened more than two months ago, the efforts of the pair to save Melba Tickle, 95, of 1162 W. Lebanon St., continue to resonate in the community, including at a council meeting Thursday night when they received special recognition.
Everett and Boles were cited for their actions on the afternoon of Sept. 4, when Tickle activated her medical alarm from inside her residence.
An engine company was dispatched to the scene, as part of the city fire department’s medical first-responder role, along with the Mount Airy Police Department, with Everett and Boles arriving in 45 seconds.
Once there, the two realized that a working structure fire was involved along with the entrapment of the occupant. Everett and Boles heard the woman inside and entered to find her on the floor in a room filled with smoke.
They were able to get Tickle, who suffered smoke inhalation from the cooking-related incident, safely outside.
“In the public safety line of work, you never know what you’re going to encounter from shift to shift,” city Fire Chief Zane Poindexter said during Thursday night’s Mount Airy Board of Commissioners meeting when Boles and Everett were honored.
Each received a certificate of recognition from Mayor David Rowe citing their lifesaving intervention in September.
“These two gentlemen risked their lives to save another without giving it a second thought,” said the mayor, reading from the certificates.
Rowe added that Boles and Everett were “great” examples of what public safety personnel should represent, praising their quick actions in rescuing Melba Tickle.
The two received a round of applause from the large crowd in attendance Thursday night, and many handshakes after their recognition by the mayor.
They also drew accolades during the commissioners’ closing remarks at the end of the meeting.
The board’s Shirley Brinkley said it is reassuring to know that there are well-trained individuals in Mount Airy who are ready to respond to such emergencies in “a matter of minutes.”
“These are a couple of young people who have played a part in saving a person’s life,” Brinkley said in driving home the difference their involvement made.
Commissioner Jim Armbrister also praised the pair, mentioning conversations with them before the meeting about what they’d done in September. He said what Boles and Everett had to say made a big impression on him about how they approach their work.
“They just kind of shrugged their shoulders,” Armbrister related, “and said, ‘This is what we do.’”
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.