by Lisa Tome
Raymond Glassford interrupted his NFL playoff watching on Sunday, January 21, to direct traffic at a fire scene.
But first, he saved a life.
"I was watching the Patriots/Jaguars game and was rooting for the Jaguars," said Glassford.
As a probationary member of North East Fire Company and a certified fire police officer, he volunteers to direct traffic during emergencies. But before he took up the traffic direction, Glassford, 35, veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and certified fire police officer, pulled a North East senior citizen from his burning home.
The fire at 105 East Cecil Avenue, in downtown North East, started shortly after 5 p.m. Glassford's scanner alerted him to the fire.
Glassford could see the smoke and flames from his home on Main Street. "I saw huge flames shooting out of the house and heavy smoke," he said. Wearing flip flops, a t-shirt, and shorts, "I got in my truck and hauled ass over there," said Glassford. He then ran up to the house and saw North East Police Lt. Jim Just and others on the porch. He then asked the onlookers if anyone was in the home. "They said someone was still in there."
"I know of him, Kevin, but I don't know him. I saw his hands on top of the couch through the flames and smoke. He was six to 10 feet inside on the couch which was on fire," said Glassford. "I dragged him to the door and took him to the front lawn."
In doing so, Glassford, singed his beard and burned his hand. He then stayed with the victim until medics arrived. Then he went to direct traffic.
"I didn't worry about myself. It was no big deal. I wanted to get the victim safe and I wanted to get the traffic out of the way to make room for the (apparatus). I'm not looking for recognition," he said.
Glassford has experience in lifesaving. He was a Marine Corps sniper on a Force Recon Team and said he saved lives while serving.
"It might seem foolish, but no one else was capable of doing it (at the time) if I didn't do it. I heard through the grapevine that he is alive. I heard he will make it," said Glassford. "I'm proud of what I did. I don't expect a parade. I was doing what is right. I would hope someone would do that for me. My thought was get this man out."
Since he's a new member of the fire company, Glassford was fearful that he would be reprimanded for rescuing someone without the training. Chief Mike Penhollow said he is "ecstatic" that a life was saved. I'm grateful that someone of his caliber was there. Our prayers from the fire department go out to the family and the victim," said Penhollow. The chief also said that while he is grateful to Glassford, he is also grateful for those who fought the fire and directed the traffic. He said business owners and the fire company ladies both brought food to the scene and they should be thanked.
"I'm proud of him," said Fire Police Lieutenant David Gatchell.
He was also commended by police.
North East police Lt. Just wrote a letter to Chief Penhollow regarding Glassford's efforts. "...Thick, heavy black smoke was pouring out of the front door and was choking out the efforts of good Samaritans who were trying to extricate the home owner who was lying on a couch only six feet from the threshold of the door...I observed Kevin Carter, age 65, awake but unable to leave by his own power. At that moment, Mr. Glassford appeared out of nowhere like a guardian angel. He was able to talk Mr. Carter into extending an arm over the sofa in the direction of the front door. Disregarding his own personal safety and health, Mr. Glassford entered the residence which was hot enough that the living room windows were breaking from the heat. He found the strength to confront the deadly elements and pulled Mr. Carter over the end of the couch and out of the front door to safety. His actions were truly heroic...We are blessed to have a man of his caliber and courage, be a member of our community."
Carter sustained burns to 10 percent of his body and as of last week was in Bayview Burn Center, Baltimore.
Glassford, 35, joined the fire company last summer. "My first impression is that the fire company was busy," he said. He asked requirements to join and was approved for membership. He attended fire police training "to keep those on scene safe." Now, he plans to take additional firefighter and driver training. "Being part of the fire company as a whole provides a service to the community. I want to do more than watch things happen," said Glassford. "I did what I had to do at the time. I would do it again any day."