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AFD Rescues Guests in a Motel Fire

Friday’s Heroes: Albuquerque Fire Department’s Engine 5, Rescue 3 and Unit 78

July 15, 2016

Albuquerque- Today, Mayor Richard J. Berry recognized Engine 5, Rescue 3 and Quality Improvement Officer 78 of the Albuquerque Fire Department (AFD) for their conjoined heroic efforts to save trapped occupants at a local motel that caught fire.

In the early morning of May 23, AFD units responded to several 9-1-1 calls for a massive fire at the Desert Sands Motel on Central Avenue. When units arrived, smoke and flames had consumed the first floor of the motel trapping several dozen occupants.  While crews battled the fire, other AFD personnel crew rescued individuals that were yelling for help from a second story window by using ground ladders.  Rescue personnel took these individuals to the triage area to be evaluated. When victims reported that more guests were still inside their rooms, AFD jumped into action to save even more survivors. Paramedics treated one of the occupants with smoke inhalation by administrating a Cyano Kit, a lifesaving medication used to treat cyanide poisoning caused by smoke inhalation or ingestion. AFD continued their live saving work by creating an internal on scene EMS group that tended to victims in need of triage, evaluation, and transport, and also coordinated shelter for 57 displaced survivors of the fire with the Red Cross.

The bravery and teamwork displayed by these firefighters and paramedics during the motel fire is a direct reflection of the capabilities and skill of the Albuquerque Fire Department. These men saved the lives of countless trapped tenants and provided additional resources and help to assist with the recent catastrophic event they just experienced. It is for these reasons and actions that the men of Engine 5, Rescue 3, and Unit 78 were recognized as this week’s Friday’s Heroes for the City of Albuquerque.


Engine 5: Lieutenant Dominic Velasquez, Driver Christopher Epley, Firefighter Tuan Doan, Firefighter Zephyr Valverde

Rescue 3: Paramedic Lieutenant Jeff Bussey, Paramedic Driver Gabriel Healey, and Paramedic Intern Eric Bergman

Unit 78: Quality Improvement Officer Robert LaPrise