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Rescue earns WMFD highest honors

Responders named ‘ Firefighters of the Year’ at state convention

ralphhardin@gmail.com The highlight of the night at the State Fire Convention in Hot Springs came when four firefighters from the West Memphis Fire Department accepted the highest honor given to any Arkansas firefighter.

Driver/Firefighter Darryl Bell, Firefighter/ EMT Trent Hanks, Firefighter/ EMT James Allensworth, and Firefighter/Paramedic Brian Bedinger were all on hand to accept their “Arkansas Firefighter of the Year” awards. The four were recognized for their bravery and valor on the morning of Aug. 14, 2015.

Just after 5 a.m. that day, West Memphis Fire Department along with West Memphis Police Department were dispatched to 136 Stuart St. for a possible apartment fire with people trapped inside.

Upon arrival of the first due engine, Engine Company 3 and EMS Unit 15, they found an apartment with heavy fire involvement in the front half of the apartment.

West Memphis Police were already on the scene but did not have the proper equipment to enter the apartment. The Police Officers on the scene directed the firefighters from Engine Company 3 to the back side of the apartment were two children were trapped inside.

Driver Darryl Bell was in charge of Engine Company 3 and made the decision to go ahead and attempt a rescue even though they did not have charged fire hoses in place. Driver Bell along with Firefighter Trent Hanks and Firefighter James Allensworth made entry and successfully rescued two children from the apartment. A 10-year-old girl and a 13-month-old baby were brought out of the burning apartment.

The baby was not breathing and was handed to Firefighter/Paramedic Brian Bedinger, who performed life saving measures on the scene and had the baby breathing on its own before being transported to LeBohneur. The 10 year old suffered severe burns but is still making great progress even to day thanks to the men and women of the West Memphis Police and Fire Departments.

The four were nominated and voted on by their peers from across the state of Arkansas.

“I wish we could've give every responder on the scene that day an award for all the heroic acts that were going on,” said Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Jones. “But these four were chosen and we are very proud of them at the West Memphis Fire Department. The City of West Memphis and Crittenden County are very fortunate to have such great men and women that provide these services on a daily basis.”

By Ralph Hardin