September 11, 2019
An off-duty Murgon ambulance paramedic is being hailed a hero after saving two people and their pets from a house fire in Toowoomba on Tuesday afternoon.
Officer-in-charge of Murgon QAS, Michael Formica, was visiting family in Toowoomba when he noticed a house on fire in Harristown.
“I noticed the smoke pretty well straight away,” he said.
“There were a couple of people on scene when I walked across there. I heard some commotion from the back.
“The house was engulfed in flames.
“I walked around the back. There was a gentleman hosing through the security door.”
Michael said there was screaming coming from inside the building.
He entered the house through the back door and found the mother inside the house.
“I pulled her back out of the smoke. She was covered in soot from head to toe and screaming,” he said.
Michael took her outside and asked her if there was anyone else inside.
The frantic mother said her eight-year-old daughter was still in the burning building.
Michael then re-entered the house, which was full of thick, black smoke.
“From the hose, the floor was full of water. So I got down in the water and I crawled in the direction of the loungeroom but I couldn’t get past the heat and the smoke and I couldn’t see.”
Michael then retreated back to the laundry area and turned on the flashlight on his phone.
He then crawled back inside.
“I made it further back into the loungeroom but because of the thickness of the smoke, the light was just bouncing back and I couldn’t see.”
He then decided to get out of the house and try to find a way to smash the windows to let some of the smoke out.
“I did that and then I re-entered the house, crawled right into the loungeroom where the flames were.
“I did a scan of the floor and I couldn’t see any persons on the floor.
“I crawled back through to the other end of the house and opened a door.
“The bedroom was full of smoke. I entered and checked but couldn’t find any persons in there.
“I had to remove myself because I couldn’t breathe.
“I took a few more breaths and went back in and heard a noise in a cupboard.
“I crawled back in, opened the cupboard and there was a dog in the cupboard.
“I removed the dog and went outside.
“I made my way in (again) but I couldn’t unlock that bedroom door.
“I heard another noise in the first bedroom and I went in there to find another puppy.
“I took the puppy out and handed the pup to the mother.
“I turned around and saw the girl in the garage. She couldn’t get up.
“I helped her up.”
He then took the mother and girl around the front of the house to safety and contacted QAS for back-up.
“When the firies arrived I got their oxygen and put the oxygen on mum and then the ambulance arrived and they headed to hospital,” he said.
Once the handover was done, it was Michael’s turn to get treated.
“The mother was quite upset, as you could imagine. She had just lost most of her possessions,” Michael said.
She also thought her daughter had been hurt, but fortunately she was not injured.
The mother suffered smoke inhalation.
“I had smoke inhalation and a small burn on my left hand.”
The modest hero said he was “just glad he could do something”.