Paramedic stumbles upon apartment fire after breaking from routine

Kathy Reitan turned right instead of her usual left-hand turn due to traffic and was able to warn residents after seeing smoke coming from a chimney

By EMS1 Staff

ANOKA, Minn. — A paramedic’s simple decision to turn right instead of left led to the rescue of residents inside a burning apartment building.

KARE11 reported that Allina Health paramedic Kathy Reitan, who has been a paramedic for 36 years and was a firefighter for 15 years, was in the ambulance with her partner when the traffic became unusually heavy.

“Generally we go out and we take a left. This time traffic was so bad we just happened to go to the right and as we came around the corner my partner and I noticed heavy brownish yellow smoke coming from the chimney. We both knew that's not a good color,” Reitan said.

Reitan began warning residents by knocking on their doors, and all three people inside the building were able to evacuate safely.

Resident Gary Grandner said he had no idea the building was on fire and was grateful for Reitan’s warning.

“We're in the lower unit and it happened in the attic, so we couldn't even smell smoke or anything,” Grandner said.

“I don't think I did anything that someone else wouldn't have done,” Reitan said. “People watch out for other people.”


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