Being trapped in a burning building is a nightmare that thankfully few people ever have to face. Jumping out of windows to escape is usually a scene reserved for movies. Real life, though, can sometimes be just as dramatic as the theater. The difference, of course, is that the danger is real, and actual human lives are at stake.

A few weeks ago United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Daniel Aasov was driving in Beer Sheva on his way to work when a firefighter noticed his bright orange ambucycle and waved to him urgently. “We’re on the way to a fire on Bnei Or Street,” she told him. “There aren’t any other fire units available. Can you come and help?” Apparently, a technical mishap prevented Daniel from receiving the emergency notification regarding the incident.

Siren wailing, Daniel sped to the address, arriving as the first medical responder. He was met by the sight of a building engulfed in fire, with thick black smoke billowing from the first and second floors. Two 14-year-old girls stood on their porch, faces white with terror, flames licking out of the window behind them.

There was no time to think. There was no time to set up a ladder; there were no bushes below to break the girls’ fall; there was only one option ahead. Daniel ran forward and gestured to the girls to jump. One by one, they closed their eyes and took the leap, each falling safely into Daniel’s ready arms.

Grim and focused, Daniel took a moment to pull the girls further away from the blaze and ensure that they were stable before he headed back toward the burning building. Firefighters were rescuing a woman from a higher floor by using a ladder, while other rescue personnel asked Daniel to come with them inside to find residents. Taking a deep breath and then entering the smoke-filled hallway, the team soon discovered a woman slumped over at the bottom of a stairway. She had slipped as she ran to escape, fallen, and become overwhelmed by the smoke.

Daniel and a colleague helped the woman to stand and together they stumbled through the smoke to safety. Moments later, they were outside in the fresh air. By this time, additional United Hatzalah medics had arrived and the woman received immediate treatment for burns and smoke inhalation.

It was over an hour later by the time Daniel zipped up his medic bag and returned to his ambucycle. His clothes were steeped in smoke and his muscles ached. It hadn’t been easy, and the flames, smoke, and palpable terror would remain etched in his memory. But right then, he simply felt gratitude and relief. Thankfully, there were no fatalities or serious injuries, and Daniel knew that was partly due to his efforts.

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