Calif. Fire Chief Loses Home While Saving Others from Wildfire

Calif. Fire Chief Loses Home While Saving Others from Wildfire

News Oct 12, 2017

Oct. 11—When a wildfire ripped through Santa Rosa early Monday, Tom Welch made sure his family and neighbors were safe before dashing back home to see if there was any chance of defending his house from the flames.

"It was about getting people out of there," Welch said Tuesday from Chico, where he and his family were staying with in-laws. "The fire was moving, and we went house to house, kicking in doors to get people out."

Welch, who is chief of the Mill Valley Fire Department, lost his home that morning after hours of search-and-rescue and battling the blaze. But alongside Santa Rosa and Windsor firefighters, they were able to save about eight homes in the Coffey Park neighborhood.

Welch said it was about 1 a.m. when he was on a conference call with Marin County fire Chief Jason Weber and others deciding how many firefighters and other resources each Marin department could spare to join the fight against the North Bay fires.

After the call, he walked from his home on Holly Park Way about six blocks north across Hopper Avenue and saw the wind-whipped firestorm raging toward the neighborhood. He called his wife and told her get their two teenage children and flee.

She picked up his aunt from Windsor on their way to Chico, where his father-in-law lives, Welch said.

Welch immediately jumped to aid Santa Rosa police, moving door to door to evacuate people to safety.

It was around 4 a.m. when he made his way back to his house on Holly Park Way.

After realizing the flames couldn't be defeated, "I was pretty bummed," he said, but "when you're in that moment of a live fire, it goes by pretty fast... There were still homes to save; I had to move on to the next house, and then the next."

In the morning, when the smoldering ash was all that remained, Welch said the neighborhood "was completely devastated; everything was leveled."

Continue Reading

Although he was upset, he said his wife reminded him that they all had their health and they had the support of family and friends.

Mill Valley Mayor Jessica Sloan called him "a hero," saying that "these are the moments that show what an incredible firefighter he is."

"He was able to evacuate his own family and save the lives of his neighbors," she said. "We are very proud of him."

Welch commended Santa Rosa, Windsor and all Sonoma County first responders. He said he couldn't imagine experiencing this tragedy without the support of the fire community, the city of Mill Valley and friends and family.

Welch, who joined the Mill Valley Fire Department in 2000, has been serving as fire chief since 2015. He grew up in Redding, where he began his career with Old Shasta Fire Protection District in 1992.

The city of Mill Valley has launched a crowd-funding effort through YouCaring.com, to support Mill Valley city staff affected by the fires. So far, they have raised more than $50,000. For more information, go to bit.ly/2y8ORno .

Source
McClatchy
The Marin Independent Journal, Novato, Calif.
The budget cut allowed the department to cross-staff, using firefighters to staff ambulances due to medical calls outnumbering fire calls.
Starting next year, the insurer will reimburse treatment that doesn’t require the emergency department.
One of the two Northern California wildfires have been fully contained due to cooler temperatures and light rain.
Kenneth Scheppke challenged longstanding traditions in patient care that have not withstood current scrutiny.

EMTs and other first responders who treated the wounded on scene of the Vegas shooting could be at risk for post-traumatic stress.

All EMS, fire, and law enforcement agencies in the county will participate in the drill along with 100 volunteers portraying victims of the shooting.
As the state begins facing the effects of the opioid crisis, medical professionals, law enforcement and prosecutors join the national discussion on possible solutions to the epidemic.
Only one of three in the country, the "rapid extrication team" assists in rescuing injured firefighters while local crews battle the forest fires.
The paramedic-staffed chase car would respond to ALS calls in a timelier manner and help alleviate several local fire departments' calls.
Las Vegas and Orlando massacres set a solemn tone for the normally festive event.
In a project to raise grant funding that began a year ago, the Richmond Ambulance Authority and VCU Health teamed up to provide 35 of Richmond’s Public Schools with Bleeding Control (BCON) equipment. 
Mercy Health's new two-story, 29,000 square foot center features a Level 1 trauma center, an expanded surgical area, and more comfortable patient and visitor access.
Luigi Daberdaku has made 1,500 sandwiches so far for the North Bay first responders managing the wildfires in California.
The Vegas Strong Resiliency Center dedicated to providing resources to those affected by the mass shooting will open on Monday at 1523 Pinto Lane.
A community of nearly 500 deaf people were the last to be notified and evacuated during the wildfires in Sonoma County, calling for better emergency alert systems.