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Woman pulled from floodwaters, revived in Birmingham

Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 9:40 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 8, 2021 at 10:05 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Birmingham Fire Rescue crews said a woman pulled from a car that was submerged in floodwaters, was alert and conscious Wednesday night after they were able to perform CPR on her.

Two Birmingham Police Department officers arrived on the scene at 15th Avenue and 28th Street prior to BFRS and immediately went into rescue mode.

Officers Michael Burnett and Anthony Evans went underwater to save the woman who police say was about 80 years old. “The lady that was in the car. I had no concern for myself. I just wanted to get her out,” said Officer Burnett. “I didn’t think about any of that. Just getting her out of the water and getting her to safety.”

BFRS crews performed CPR, and because of their heroic efforts, the woman was fully revived.

Officers Michael Burnett and Officer Anthony Evans arrived on 15th Avenue North and 28th Street in the Norwood community to find a car completely underwater. They immediately jumped into the water to see if someone was inside.

Officer Burnett says the water was over his head, but he was able to swim over to the vehicle. Once he opened the door, he felt someone’s arm. He pulled the victim from the car.

The officers discovered it was an older woman who had no pulse and wasn’t breathing. Once they arrived on dry land, Birmingham Fire and Rescue assisted and performed CPR. She began to cough up water. According to the Birmingham Police Department, she was conscious and transported to UAB where is she is currently recovering.

These officers say they didn’t have any time to think about anything else other than saving whoever was inside that car. They acted solely on adrenaline.

“Water. Any kinda crazy situation you need to remain calm if you don’t you’ll panic,” says Officer Evans. “If you panic you can’t help anybody.”

Once Officer Burnett realized it was a woman in her 80′s he says all he could think about was if that was his mother or his grandmother. He knew he’d want someone to save them.

“The lady that was in the car. I had no concern for myself,” says Officer Burnett. “I just wanted to get her out. I didn’t think about anything being in the water until you just said it. I didn’t think about any of that. Just getting her out of the water and getting her to safety.”

They were able to do just that. Battalion Chief Sebastian Carrillo says if these two officers and BFRS did not act as quickly as they did, this woman would not be alive. He understands how fast and unexpected flooding can happen. But he also stresses the importance of “turn around, don’t drown”. Situations like these can endanger the lives of so many people.

“I will remind you, in these events our community doesn’t have time to prepare sometimes,” Chief Carrillo. “Some people were coming home from work and they had to get home from work. So we understand that. It’s just if it’s possible we ask that you stay home during these events.”

The collaborative effort with the police and fire department is a testament to how important it is for them to work together as first responders in situations like these.

“We respond well together. We operate well together. We communicate,” says Sgt. Rodarius Mauldin. “That’s the main thing as far as that partnership once we get on the scenes. The actions that we can take to support one another. So it’s very important that we have a great partnership with Birmingham Fire and rescue.”

Both officers have worked at the North Precinct their entire career. They’ve seen flooding in that area before but nothing like what happened on Wednesday night. Neither have any experience with water rescues. They both are avid swimmers and Navy veterans. They believe they were in the right place and at the right time to save that woman’s life.

Chief Carillo says she is currently in the hospital recovering. No additional details have been released.

Birmingham Police Officers Evans and Burnett pulled up at 15th Ave North and 28th Street in Norwood last night to...

Posted by Birmingham Police Department, Alabama on Thursday, October 7, 2021

BFRS made a total of 26 water rescues during the rain and flooding event.

Birmingham Fire Rescue released this statement: “While the professionalism displayed by our Public Safety Personnel is to be commended, it is underscored by the need to remind our citizens of the grave danger that they put themselves and our First Responders in by trying to navigate floodwaters.”

The woman is currently recovering at the hospital.

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