Civilians step up to help first responders save man from burning vehicle
But until Saturday, July 2, 2011, he had never had civilians stop at a fiery car crash to help first responders save a life.
Ferguson was on duty that night, as was police officer Colin Wheeler, who is now with the Kingston Police Department.
The two met up just before 11:30 p.m. and joked about how quiet it was for a Fourth of July weekend, Ferguson said. But they spoke too soon.
“He took off one way down Route 11 and I went another, and not but a minute later I heard him sign out with what he thought was a motor vehicle into a tree — tree down,” Ferguson said. “Then he was advising the motor vehicle was on fire.”
Ferguson immediately responded.
By then, four civilians had stopped to assist Wheeler, including Clayton Ball of Rochester, Kris Martel of Rochester, volunteer firefighter Keith Noseworthy of Milton and Archie Martin of Farmington.
Ferguson said the driver of the truck, identified later as Ronald Nisbet, 49, of Gilmanton, was alert, but was pinned by a tree that had come through the windshield, nearly decapitating him.
Wheeler had tried to put out the fire with an extinguisher, but it kept billowing from the engine compartment, Ferguson said. Ferguson used an extinguisher to keep the fire at bay as Wheeler and the four civilians tugged and pulled and finally extricated Nisbet from the vehicle.
Soon after, Nisbet's pickup was fully engulfed in flames, Ferguson said.
“I've never seen him since, but from what I've been told, he's up walking around and doing fine,” Ferguson said.
Having civilians dive into a scene complete with blood and fire was not something he had seen before.
“In 10 years, that's the first time I've ever had a civilian stop at a situation like that and have a civilian ask, ‘What do you need from me,'” Ferguson said. “They put this gentleman's safety ahead of their own.”
That is why all six men, including Ferguson and Wheeler, are being honored this year with a Union Leader Hero Award.
“I think it's great for the agency and for the people to get recognized, but in all honesty, I just did my job,” Ferguson said.
About the Hero Awards
The Union Leader Hero Awards honor New Hampshire residents who have risked their lives in the previous year to save or attempt to save the life of another person.
The program is sponsored by Citizens Bank and presented by the New Hampshire Union Leader.
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