James Michael O’Brien, 22, student, saved a retired nurse, 54, from burning, Phoenix, Arizona, February 22, 1966. While the nurse was asleep in her apartment on the second floor of a two-story stucco building, fire broke out in the living room. The window drapes caught fire and cracked the glass, through which flames and smoke issued. O’Brien and another student were attracted and saw the building manager trying to open the apartment door. Running 50 feet to a stairway leading to a balcony at the second-floor level, O’Brien quickly ascended it and reached the apartment breathing heavily. By then the manager had forced open the door. Heat was intense. O’Brien could see nothing in the very dense smoke as he entered the living room. The other student arrived and crawled six feet into the living room but experienced difficulty in breathing which forced him to leave. Holding his breath as much as possible, O’Brien continued through the living room, where flames burned on two walls and some of the furniture. He searched one bedroom but found no one. Answering a call from the other student outside, he inhaled some smoke which caused him to choke. O’Brien then moved into the other bedroom. His feet touched the nurse, who had been overcome by the smoke and lay inert on the floor. Taking hold of her, O’Brien dragged her after him as he backed into the hall and then into the living room. Spreading flames had increased the heat, and he gasped for air. O’Brien passed close to the flames as he dragged the nurse a total of 35 feet to the door of the apartment. The other student took the nurse from O’Brien, whose hair had been singed, and revived her. Firemen arrived and extinguished the flames.
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