Paramedics rush into smoke-filled Prince Albert apartment to rescue 5

Two paramedics rushed into a smoke-filled Prince Albert apartment building Tuesday morning to rescue three children and two teenagers who were trapped inside.
Paramedics Kelly Straf (left) and Sheldon Hirschfeld were first on the scene of an apartment building on fire. (Ryan Pilon/CBC)

Two paramedics rushed into a smoke-filled apartment building in Prince Albert Tuesday morning to rescue three children and two teenagers who were trapped inside.

Everyone got out and, although they needed treatment for minor smoke inhalation, all were safe.

The drama unfolded around 11:30 a.m. CST when fire crews and an ambulance were dispatched to an apartment on the 400 block of 9th Street East. It was later determined that a pot had been left on a hot stove.

Because the EMS base was close by, paramedics Kelly Straf and Sheldon Hirschfeld were the first on the scene.

"When we pulled up, we seen basically a scrum of people standing on the front lawn," Straf told CBC News Wednesday. "There was a lot of yelling and screaming for help, and first thing we seen was some children and they were trapped in a smoke-filled apartment. They were at the window, banging at the window that they couldn't get out."

Straf and Hirschfeld made a split-second decision and entered the building. They made their way to the apartment unit, on the second floor, and kicked in the door.

"I'm a parent, I have children at home," Hirschfeld said. "All I could think of was the kids need help. And that's what we do, we help people."

Three boys, aged two, three and seven; and two teenaged girls, 16 and 18, were in the building and were taken to Victoria Hospital for treatment.

Straf also suffered smoke inhalation and was treated in hospital and released.

"I had a lot of pain —chest pain — [and] discomfort, shortness of breath, coughing, just to get cleaned out," Straf said Wednesday. "Still a little jittery today and a little bit nauseous yet. But doing well."

The ambulance company, Parkland Ambulance, noted it was a dangerous situation and they do not encourage their staff to undertake such actions, but added they were proud that their paramedics got everyone out of the apartment safely.

Hirschfeld said he was happy everything turned out OK.

"It's nice to know we've made a difference in someone's life," he said. "It's one of the rewarding sides of our profession, I think, is having that sense that we've made a difference."

With files from CBC's Ryan Pilon