139th News

Missouri state firefighter saves life off-duty

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Patrick Evenson
  • 139th Airlift Wing

A routine trip to the gas station for off-duty firefighter Kimberly Rauch, turned out to be a live-saving journey that one man’s life is indebted to.

Rauch has been a firefighter for the Missouri Air National Guard’s 139th Fire Department since July of 2021. She is a civilian state employee who, prior to her current position, suited up for the Atchison Fire Department in Kansas for two years.

On the morning of November 15th, as she was heading to the gas station in the south end of St. Joseph, she saw smoke bellowing out of the top of a house.

As she drove by she could hear a girl screaming. Rauch immediately parked in the neighbor’s driveway and took off running towards the sound.

As she turned the corner from where the commotion was coming from, she sees a girl banging on a glass sliding door.

When Rauch approached the door, she could see through a smoked filled corridor the hands of a man who had collapsed on the floor.

By this time, a man who was also passing by came around the corner, and together
they picked up some lawn furniture, busting out the window of the door.

The whole room was filled with smoke so Rauch got on the floor and crawled to the collapsed man. She got up underneath his arms and dragged him to safety.

“He wasn’t doing so hot, that’s for sure,” Rauch said. “He had busted his head where he had fell and hit the ground, but we dragged him back and rolled him over.”

Black soot had formed around his month from all the smoke he had inhaled, said Rauch. His eyes were opened starring at her with a vacant look. “That’s not a good sign,” Rauch said. “I didn’t know if he was going to make it.”

When they rolled him on his side in the fresh air, he started to come around. He still wasn’t able to move under his own power but Rauch and the other bystander carried him farther from the house.

By this time another young man came around the house with cuts on his arms and neck from where he busted out the window to allow him to help the girl escape the fire from the second floor. Rauch treated his injuries as best she could.

Shortly after, the ambulance showed up and transported the man to Mosaic.

Once the St. Joseph Fire Department were on the scene, Rauch left before the fire was even out. Her work was done, so she filled up her tank with gas and carried on with her day.

One of the firefighters on the scene later contacted Rauch and said they had to insert a tube into his airway on the way to the hospital due to swelling, being in the smoked filled house for so long. Had he been trapped in the house much longer, that might not have been possible.

A few days later she ran into the daughter at a gas station and let Rauch know that they had to transport her father to KU Med but that he was doing well.

“Right place at the right time I guess. I don’t know,” Rauch humbling said.

While reflecting on her decision to become a firefighter, Rauch said that she has always wanted to help people.

“It’s more satisfying for me to help someone than anything else,” Rauch says. “And then, of course, the adrenaline. I like the challenge. People run away from it, and we go to it. I’m just glad he’s alive.”