George D. O’Donnell, 33, operating engineer, helped to save Joseph L. Brasseur, 38, laborer, from suffocation, Buffalo, New York, June 2, 1967. When an accident during the loading of a merchant vessel resulted in an intense flash fire in a storage tank in the hold, Brasseur climbed from the adjoining tank but in the ensuing dense smoke was unable to find a ladder to the main deck. Choking from the smoke, he collapsed on a catwalk between the openings to the two tanks. O’Donnell put on an oxygen mask and descended a ladder at the side of the hatch opening above the tanks. He reached the catwalk on which Brasseur, then only partially conscious, was lying; but in the dense smoke he could see nothing. Unfamiliar with the interior of the -vessel, O’Donnell felt his way by probing with his feet before each step. He moved 12 feet along the catwalk, which was only three feet wide, and encountered Brasseur O’Donnell aided Brasseur to his feet. He placed his face next to Brasseur’s so the latter could get oxygen from the mask. Brasseur began to revive. Having lost his sense of direction, O’Donnel gave Brasseur the lead. They shared the oxygen as they moved cautiously along the cat- walk, making little progress in the dense smoke. When the smoke began to clear above them, they saw a loading pallet suspended overhead. In answer to their shouts, the pallet was lowered to them. By that time their oxygen supply had been exhausted. O’Donnell aided Brasseur, who was very weak, onto the pallet, his exertions in doing so causing him to inhale smoke. He then climbed onto the pallet; and the two men were raised to the main deck. Brasseur and O’Donnell were hospitalized for smoke inhalation. They recovered.
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