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State recognizes local firefighters for excellence

PIATT COUNTY -- An area fire department is awarded for going above and beyond the call of duty.
PIATT COUNTY -- An area fire department is awarded for going above and beyond the call of duty. The Cisco Fire Protection District got an Excellence Award from the state. WCIA-3's Erica Quednau has more.

Last November, a woman was stuck inside her home after it caught fire. Four volunteer firefighters ran inside to try to save her. They went to Springfield last week to accept the award on the district's behalf.

Sometimes, in those moments of chaos, all level-headed thinking goes away and pure adrenaline kicks in.

"Your mind and body's telling you, 'No, don't enter, the house is on fire,' but you know you have to."

"Yeah, there's bits and pieces of that call I don't remember because it was my first call."

But remember it or not, it's one which will stick with Luke Zimmerman, Captain Mark Kaufman and the Cisco Fire Protection District forever.

"I was the first to arrive in my own vehicle. I just instantly put my gear on and we were running around the house."

He was looking for 83-year old Pat Ford; the woman stuck inside.

"I went in and located her."

Zimmerman, Kaufman and two other firefighters all ran into the flames.

"Once we got her out, the EMT's got to work."

Ford was taken to the hospital, but, unfortunately, a few days later, she passed away.

"You know you did your job that night. You sent her to the hospital, did the best you could, but yeah, when we heard the news, it kind of hits home. It's an outcome we really weren't hoping for."

It's an outcome which shows the dangers of what they do as volunteers and proves why awarding firefighters is important.

"It is kind of nice to kind of sit back and know that people are standing behind you. We're all volunteers and think we're not here to do it for recognition. It was an honor really."

The Argenta-Oreana Fire Protection District also responded to the scene that night. It also received an award last week.
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