Sussex County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) dispatched the Bridgeville Volunteer Fire Company, Greenwood Volunteer Fire Company, Sussex County Medics 107 and EMS 200, along with the Delaware State Police to an MVA with a car possibly submerged underwater with an entrapment, at the intersection of Apple Tree and Sunnyside Roads.

Deputy Chief Buddy Willey arrived to find a car completely submerged. One bystander had tethered a tow-rope to the car and was attempting to pull the vehicle out without success. Willey, using a hammer given to him by a bystander, was able to break out the windows of the car. He located the driver securely fastened in, was able to pry the driver’s side door open and quickly cut the seatbelt using a knife given to him by another bystander.

Willey, along with bystander David Hollis, also of Bridgeville, pulled the driver from the car. Hollis, EMT Perry Heberling (Bridgeville Fire Company), and a Delaware State Police officer assisted Chief Willey with removing the woman to land where she was then cared for by EMTs Perry Heberling and Tara Truitt, assisted by Sussex County Paramedics. The victim was then transported to the hospital while CPR and other life-saving measures were being performed per protocol. The patient remained hospitalized for over a week but recovered.

Credit for this successful outcome goes to everyone involved. Beginning with the proactive bystanders, the collaboration of the Bridgeville and Greenwood First Responders, the Delaware State Police, Sussex County EMS staff, and all others that have trained for emergencies such as this. Their dedication, quick thinking, training, and knowledge of protocol all played a part in the success of this event.

Special recognition goes to DC Willey, who reported directly to the location instead of going to the fire station first. His selfless act of courage to enter the water and attempt rescue of the trapped victim saved the patient’s life.

Deputy Chief Willey has since had the opportunity to meet the victim and the family, a truly moving and memorable meeting. The Bridgeville Volunteer Fire Company feels that the actions taken by Chief Willey ultimately saved a life, a true heroic effort that makes us proud to recognize him and to call him a brother firefighter.

– Submitted by Matthew Smith