Ohio fire, EMS crews honored for rescuing boy with Down syndrome from house fire

Multiple departments were recognized for saving Sean Watson, a mostly nonverbal child, trapped inside a burning home

India Duke
Dayton Daily News, Ohio

DAYTON, Ohio — Local fire department collaborative firefighters were honored for the rescue of a young boy with Down syndrome earlier this year.

Several fire and emergency services employees from the Clayton, Englewood, and Union Fire Department Collaborative were honored during a Clayton City Council meeting for their bravery and skill that saved Sean Watson's life.

Employees pose with Sean Watson, whose life they saved in March after the boy was trapped in a burning home.
Employees pose with Sean Watson, whose life they saved in March after the boy was trapped in a burning home. (Photo/Fire Collaborative - Clayton, Englewood, Union)

"These are really special occasions for us at the city and also for the department and the individuals so we're really proud and happy to have this group of folks working along with us here in the city," said Clayton Mayor Mike Stevens.

In March the fire department collaborative was dispatched to a house fire where a child was trapped on the second floor. Once crews arrived, they found the child in the upstairs bathroom as the fire continued to grow.

"Clayton L85 quickly performed a rescue through the bathroom window. Seconds later the bathroom was engulfed in fire. If it were not for the quick actions of the crews, the child would have lost his life," said Fire Chief Brian Garver.

When the ladder crew realized they couldn't rescue Sean from outside the house, they went into the burning home through the window to bring him out safely.

The crew that performed the rescue which included Lieutenant Matt Bakan, Batallion Chief of Harrison Township, Darrin Wiseman, Firefighter Zac Garver and firefighter John Stevens all received Gallantry Awards.

"Sean is not a typical kid; he lives with Down syndrome and is mostly nonverbal. The firefighters who rescued him, we owe them a debt of gratitude we can never repay," said Sean's father David Watson. "I want all of you to know, all of you that were involved in this rescue you are heroes to us, and we thank you with all our hearts for saving our son's life."

The dispatcher, Theresa Clark, received a letter of commendation for managing the 8-minute phone call placed by Watson's daughter. The medical crew, Lieutenant Matt Fahncke and firefighter Jason Lawler received a unit citation and a letter of commendation. The medical crew went around the back of home upon arrival and were the first to locate where Sean was trapped.

In addition to saving Sean, the crew was able to extinguish the fire with the help of the Trotwood Fire Department and save the Watsons' home.


(c)2021 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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