Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire, and thankfully in this case, Patrol Officer Gene Blaukowitch.
Thanks to Officer Blaukowitch’s quick actions on the morning of January 1, a family of four and their family dog were saved from a probable fiery death when their family home caught fire.
As Officer Blaukowitch was en route to an early morning patrol shift on January 1, he smelled smoke as he drove down Main Street of the small mining town of Giardville, Penn. Noting that it didn’t smell like regular smoke, he drove a block further to see a multi-story home on fire, with smoke pouring from the eaves.
Officer Blaukowitch quickly pulled the patrol car past the house to allow room for fire personnel, who were not on the scene yet. As he approached the home, a second story window smashed out and the residents of the home emerged onto the porch roof, coughing through the smoke and flames.
Noting neighborhood gawkers who had emerged from their homes to watch the action, Officer Blaukowitch yelled at someone to call 911, turned the lights on his patrol car, and began assisting the family from the burning building.
A male occupant of the home threw two pre-teenage girls down to Officer Blaukowitch, and then an adult German Shepherd dog.
“I caught the girl so she wouldn’t hit hard,” Blaukowitch said, and seeing that the girl was wearing nothing but a t-shirt and underpants in the cold January temperatures, he called for a blanket.
A neighbor finally brought over a ladder, and the mother and father were able to escape the burning home.
Emergency personnel finally arrived, and while they were being evaluated, a neighbor noticed that Officer Balukowitch had sustained numerous lacerations to his arm during the rescue. He downplayed his injuries.
“My arm got a little scraped up,” he said. “I was more worried about those kids. The worst thing a person can do is lose a child.”
After receiving first aid, Officer Blaukowitch then took his patrol car to the next intersection and deployed the onboard traffic control equipment to shut down the town’s main street until enough local resources were on scene to take over.
Thanks to Officer Blaukowitch’s quick actions, all four of the home’s occupants survived, although their home and possessions were a total loss. The parents were hospitalized, while the two girls spent several days in the burn unit for internal respiratory burns and were released a week later. The entire family is currently at home recovering.
Paul Kennedy, Officer Blaukowitch’s supervisor at Signal 88 of Lehigh Valley, Penn., said that Giardville Fire Chief Frank Zangari said that Blaukowitch’s actions made a complete difference in the outcome of the incident. He said it was apparent his training as a soldier and former emergency responder kicked right in.
Blaukowitch credits his continuous Signal 88 training, and just doing the right thing for his behavior that day.
“Paul told me ‘you’re a hero,’ but I did what I was supposed to do. My job is to protect people,” he said.
Congratulations, Officer Gene Blaukowitch! For your heroic actions and quick thinking, you have been named Signal 88’s February Hero of the Month!