Colorado Firefighters Make Long-Distance Katrina Rescue

September 2005

Major kudos to two Centennial firefighters, Patrick O'Brien and Gary Federick, of South Metro Fire & Rescue. They were working at a Hurricane Katrina shelter in Fort Worth, TX, when they heard a resident complain that she had been getting the run-around while trying to find help for her family members, including her parapalegic stepfather, still trapped in New Orleans.

'"Because we are part of a FEMA urban rescue team we were able to make contact with people in the New Orleans area. We started making calls to police and FEMA and some contacts she gave us. Finally, after a day of working on it, we made contact with somebody down who knew them. We don't know exactly who it was. It took about half an hour to convince them but we finally got them to drive into the area," said O'Brien. The family, which had tried to leave earlier but couldn't get out even though their neighborhood wasn't flooded, was rescued and hopes to soon join Pleasant in Fort Worth.

The pair earned high praise from Forth Worth's FEMA director:

""Firefighters O'Brien and Federico performed an heroic service through their diligence." said FEMA's Fort Worth operations senior official, Dennis Hunsinger. "Their action highlights the crucial difference firefighters from across the country are making through their work at FEMA's Disaster Recovery Centers, and shows that you don't have to be physically at the scene of a disaster in order to save lives."