By Tech. Sgt. Richard Mekkri
158th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
National Emergency Medical Services week kicked off on May 16, honoring EMS practitioners who are a vital component of emergency medicine.
Established in 1974, the theme for this year’s observance is "This is EMS: Caring for Our Communities.”
Staff Sgt. Nathan Bourn, a munitions specialist at the Vermont Air National Guard’s 158th Fighter Wing, is one first responder who has striven to live up to what this year’s theme is all about.
Bourn, an assistant fire chief with the Poultney, Vermont volunteer fire department, was the first to arrive on the scene of an active fire on April 3, 2021. Bourn discovered the garage quickly filling with smoke and found that the door to the main house was locked.
Knowing he had to find a way in before the fire spread from the garage, he took immediate action.
“I kicked the door in, shut it behind me to keep the smoke and heat away from the house,” said Bourn, who's been a firefighter for more than decade. “When I got into the house there was one dog that was roaming about and several others in kennels in the dining area.” Bourn assessed the scene, looking for the homeowners or anyone else who may have been inside the home. After he discovered that no individuals were present, Bourn took to the task of rescuing the dogs from the house.
“I went back downstairs and started to carry the kennels with the smaller dogs outside and put them on the front porch,” Bourn said. “There was a larger dog that I couldn't carry out so I pointed his kennel to the open front door and let him out.”
By the time the larger dog made it safely outside, the house began to fill with smoke. There were still more dogs in the house, however. At that point, Bourn said that the smoke was so thick he had to crawl on his stomach to find the last dog.
“We volunteer with a dog rescue, so the dogs are our lives,” said Keith Mahar, the owner of the home. “Nate got all the dogs out. He was our hero that day.”
To Bourn, though, it was nothing exceptional. He said it was something that anyone would have done.
“I joined to help my local community,” said Bourn. “I don't feel like I did anything special to help them or anyone else. It is just the right thing to do, help when and how you can.”