While the explosion of the apartment building in the Apartments in Highland Hills still under investigation, three firefighters are just beginning their journey to recovery.
Those who know the dangers of the job first-hand say there is no question that it was training and quick thinking that saved lives, including their own.
Jim McDade said he had the same sinking feeling when he heard the call for help go through the radio.
“There is a moment of panic between all of us,” McDade said. “It’s chilling, absolutely chilling to hear that audio of that panic and to know very well that the person making that call is seriously injured.”
As a 16-year veteran and president of the Dallas Firefighters Association, he understands that a firefighter only makes an emergency call under certain circumstances.
“Mayday is what we would say on the radio if we are lost, trapped, out of air or in a really bad situation. We need someone to come get us, that’s what it means, ”he said.
He also knew that the firefighters at Station 25, the ones in the Highland Hills apartments during Wednesday’s blast, had extensive training and experience that continued even after the academy.
“This station is a very busy station,” he said. “So, in addition to all the training, they are actually putting all of their training into practice, because they are out there doing it.”
McDade says that all firefighters receive something called self-rescue training. If possible, a firefighter does his best to get out of a dangerous situation while others are on the way.
“It’s everything from learning how to get through a wall, or get out a window or whatever it takes,” McDade said. “But you call him and try to get out while people come looking for you at the same time.”
Ultimately, he says the Dallas firefighter family considers itself lucky.
“It is going to be a long road. These guys have a long way to go to heal and get back to where they can be working again, ”he said. “It is an absolute miracle that we have not lost anyone.”
A resident of the complex told NBC 5 on Thursday that he had informed maintenance staff that he had smelled gas on Tuesday and that some of his neighbors had been complaining to the complex about the smell for several days.
Four civilians were injured during the explosion. They were taken to the hospital for treatment and released Wednesday night. Three of the four injured firefighters remain at Parkland Hospital.