Carnegie Medal presentation to Carnegie Hero Samantha Olive Barnhouse

Carnegie Hero Samantha Olive Barnhouse

Contra Costa County (Calif.) Fire Chief Jeff Carman, right, places a plastic fire hat on Alice, the daughter of Carnegie Hero Samantha Olive Barnhouse shortly after Carman and retired fire investigator Vic Massenkoff presented Barnhouse with the Carnegie Medal during a Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors Meeting March 12, 2019, in Martinez, Calif.

In February 2018, Barnhouse, 30, saved her 78-year-old neighbor from a burning house in Antioch, Calif. Barnhouse entered the apartment and found the man, who was sitting in a wheeled desk chair, unable to move. She pushed him through the house to the front door, where the chair became stuck. Barnhouse pulled on it, freeing it, and causing her and the man to fall outside beneath flames issuing through the doorway.

“I’ve had a job in public safety for 42 years, and never in my whole time have I seen a citizen exhibit such selfless bravery and true bravery as Mrs. Barnhouse did that day,” Massenkoff said.

After accepting the award, Barnhouse took a few moments to reflect on her heroic act at the podium.

“Everybody’s been asking me how do you feel about doing that. And my answer to that is I think that my whole life I’ve been fighting for my life due to medical issues,” she said. ”I think I have maybe a deeper understanding of how important life is, everybody’s life, not just mine. Mine is not, you know, the only life out there worth fighting for.”

Photo courtesy of Con Fire.