Sedgwick Co. firefighters describe flood rescue: ‘It was a good one, one to remember’


WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A pair of Sedgwick County firefighters, who rescued two trapped people from their flooded car, talked with KSN for the first time since the incident on Wednesday.

Earlier this month, a woman called 911 and told dispatchers that she and her brother were trapped inside their car on Harry Street near Rock Road.

“We’re in the flooding behind Starbucks Coffee on Harry and Rock Road. Our car is in the canal and we’re upside down and the car is filling up with water,” the victim told dispatch.

The victim begged dispatch to send help.

“Yes, we’re under water right now. The car is flipped upside down,” she said. “Please, hurry! Please!”

Dispatch attempted to keep the woman clam, assuring her that crews were on their way to the location.

“I’m getting the call dispatched out. Stay on the phone with me, OK?” the dispatcher said to the victim. “Stay on the phone. You’re doing good.”

“My initial reaction was this isn’t going to be good,” said Sedgwick County Firefighter Josh Thieme.

Thieme and his partner Lt. Glendon Thompson were the first to arrive to the scene.

“You literally have to take a deep breath, take a second and focus,” said Sedgwick County Lt. Glendon Thomspon.

The pair told KSN they quickly assessed the situation and jumped into action. First, they used a log chain to tie the victim’s Dodge Charger to the bridge. Then, they used a Halligan bar to open the car’s trunk.

“Within a couple of blows the trunk popped right open,” Thieme said.

Thieme then cut his way through the backseat, reaching for the two victims.

“I could hear two voices. She told me right away that there was a seat belt that was holding the seat in place. She actually took my hand and pushed me towards the seat belt, so I hollered up at Lt. Thompson, he gave me a knife to cut the seat,” Thieme said.

At the same time, Thieme talked to the victims about what he was doing and why.

“Just trying to keep them calm, let them know we are doing something. They can’t see what we are doing. All they can hear is a bunch of banging,” he said.

The banging was coming from up above where Thompson was situated. He was standing on the back-end of the car helping Thieme free the victims.

“He (Thieme) was able to get a good amount of separation and enough that they could bring themselves out and then we could help them stand up and get them out,” said Thompson.

The two firefighters were able to free the two uninjured victims from the car.

“It’s what we train for. It’s what we do and we just want to be able to help people and times like that, it’s nice to know that what you did actually had a good effect,” Thompson said.

“A lot of the calls we run don’t seem like they’re, you know, very gratifying, this one actually was,” Thieme said. “It was a good one, one to remember.”

A few days after the rescue, the firefighters said the grandma of the two victims called their station and thanked them for saving her grand kids.

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