CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- December 22, 2017, is a day Jeff Young will never forget.
Young, a firefighter for New Hope Fire Department, had just worked a full shift before a call came in about a residential fire on Sugarcane Lane.
“The actual call came in that night as the house exploded. And we got there and it was fully involved," Young said. “We didn’t know if anybody was inside of it.”
Young explained that this particular fire was difficult to put out.
“Every time we put water on it, the fire just didn’t act right. We didn't get any steam conversion,” Young said.
Looking to put out the fire from the back, Young went in through the back door. The experienced firefighter first checked to make sure the floor underneath him was stable before he entered the bedroom.
With the floor stable, Young then turned the hose on but the pressure from the hose forced him through the floor and into the crawlspace where the fire was burning.
“I got trapped between the floor joist and got wedged up underneath a back door that had been kicked in,” Young said.
Citing his firefighter training, Young did everything he was supposed to.
“I didn’t panic. I didn’t take my face piece off and my airway was never compromised,” Young exclaimed.
Stuck in a hole in the floor, Young was unable to reach his PASS device or his air pack to set off an alarm to let his fellow firefighters know he was in trouble.
"I couldn’t get out and immediately started feeling burning on my legs," Young recalled.
Knowing he was in trouble and needed immediate assistance, Young reached for his walkie-talkie but that was also just out of reach.
“So I just yelled 'mayday' as loud as I could three times and tried to get out the whole time,” Young said.
That’s where fellow firefighter John Worley comes in.
Worley was working the fire when he heard the mayday calls and immediately rushed into the burning building to save his colleague.
“When I got there we started going around back, trying to get in," Worley said. "I assigned another fireman to cut a door so we could get into the back and get to where the fire was. That’s where Jeff and another guy from another department were at.”
Worley said he could hear another fireman saying "Jeff's down, Jeff's down."
“In my mind, I was like 'oh crap, we gotta get him out,'” Worley said.
When Worley finally got to Young, he started checking his airways, communicating with him to see if he could respond.
“And Jeff’s not talking to me. So now in my mind, I'm thinking 'not only is he in the hole, but he’s had a heart attack.' So when we get him out we’re going to need to do CPR to save his life," Worley feared.
Worley tried to pull Young out of the hole in the floor but he just wouldn’t budge.
"When I got to him, I pushed him down and he was freed up. That’s when I just pulled him out, rolled him over, put him on his back and pulled him all the way out,” Worley said.
The first thing Young said to Worley was, 'I need some water' and that's when he knew he was ok.
"He did not have a heart attack, thank God. But he was burnt and thirsty," Worley recalled.
Young spent months in the hospital following the accident and had more than 11 surgeries to repair damage from the burns he suffered.
“The whole time I was in the hospital I kept telling them I have to get back on the truck," Young said. "It's like if you get thrown off the horse and if you don’t get back on it you won't get back on it."