Detroit firefighters, medics honored for life-saving efforts

Shawn D. Lewis
The Detroit News
Firefighter Clyde Aaron Jackson, now retired, received an award Tuesday from the Detroit Fire Department for his rescue efforts in saving people from a house fire in August.

Detroit — Clyde Aaron Jackson, a disabled retired firefighter, jumped from his car to rescue people from a burning house.

He entered the house with no safety equipment, not focused on his disability, not thinking about the risk. Just doing what firefighters do.

“I didn’t even think about anything other than these people need my help," he told The Detroit News. "I was just praying to get everyone out.” 

Jackson, 42, a firefighter for 12 years before leaving six years ago due to an on-the-job injury, was among several members of the Detroit Fire Department participating Tuesday in a recognition ceremony presided over by Fire Commissioner Eric Jones. The events are held monthly to acknowledge lifesaving and critical response efforts of the department crew. He accepted his citation while members of the audience gave him a standing ovation.

“I remember being nervous and afraid when I first came out of the  academy, and our clergyman on the job said, ‘You should feel lucky because God is sending you out to do His work.’” Jackson said. “So I felt like I was doing God’s work to help others.”

On Aug. 8, a fire was reported at 15485 West Parkway. While driving home, Jackson noticed smoke coming from a home. He found a woman and her caregiver inside the living room and guided them outside. But two more people were inside — the homeowner and a 58-year-old blind, disabled man.

“Within minutes of the rescue, and before fire companies had arrived, the house became fully involved,” read the letter of recommendation for the citation from Eugene V. Biondo, deputy chief of firefighting operations. “Without the heroic actions of retired FF Clyde Jackson, eminent loss of life would have occurred that day.”

The letter continues, “I recommend that a citation be given to retired FF Clyde Jackson for his selfless and courageous actions.”

Other firefighters and medics who received commendations included firefighter Darrell Freeman II from Engine 30.

According to a letter of recommendation written by emergency medicine physician Natalie Hrabec from Sinai-Grace Hospital, “I would like to call special attention to run #212 on August 13, involving both engine 30 and EMS medic 18. This was an all around extraordinary response.”

Darrell Freeman II, 25, and his father, Darrell Freeman Sr, 54, both of Detroit. Son received commendation for assisting in saving life of a grandmother suffering heart attack in her home. Father is senior chief of Detroit Fire Dept and said he runs the day to day operations.

The doctor wrote that a woman went into respiratory arrest while watching her three grandchildren. Nine-year-old Jada Anderson “saved her grandmother’s life due to her quick actions and knowledge.” Jada called 911 and began CPR until EMS arrived. Freeman helped tend to the grandchildren while the medics did their job.

Freeman attended the ceremony with his father, Darrell Freeman Sr., 54, senior chief of the Detroit Fire Department.

Asked how he felt about his son receiving the recognition, the dad responded, “I am very proud. He’s been doing a good job since he first came into the department.”

The younger Freeman said, “I helped the granddaughter, but the medics did the other work.”

At the beginning of the ceremony, the father of murdered firefighter Jack Wiley II, retired
Senior Fire Chief Jack Wiley individually thanked members of the Detroit Fire Department. 

Wiley, 29, was found slain Aug. 21 in his home on the 15000 block of Penrod on the city's west side by his sister, according to police. His vehicle had been stolen.

Arondez Carter and Shomari Walker have been charged in connection with Wiley's death.

Engine 33 Firefighters Sean Wilson and Robert Mauricio, driver Ken Kroll and Sgt. Roberto Romero also were cited for their roles aiding a 46-year-old man found unconscious July 8 on Chamberlain.

"Without hesitation, the crew went to work to restore life in a lifeless individual," officials said in a statement. "... If not for the quick response and actions of Engine 33’s crew, the patient would surely have perished."

Officials also recognized Ladder 22 for performing CPR on a victim in a multiple vehicle accident. "At the ER; the crew was informed that without such quick and quality work, the victim might not have made to the ER or surgery," authorities said in a statement. "Ladder 22 is not a Medical First Responder equipped rig, but the crew jumped into action and performed above and beyond, with just an AED."

Fire Lt. Jamel Mayers & Detective James Kraszewksi were recognized for an arson and fraud investigation that led to four people being convicted, work that earlier earned honors from the Michigan chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators, according to the recommendation signed by Patrick McNulty. fire investigation division chief.