Firefighter with two jobs finds off-duty moment to help driver in crash
Tommy Meyers works for two suburban fire departments, but in at least one case this week, he did his best work while not on the job for either of them.
Meyers was driving between the two -- in Rosemont and Montgomery -- Monday morning when circumstances called him into action.
It was the 27-year-old Aurora resident's first time facing an emergency while off the job. And in the moments after a construction worker's pickup truck blew a tire and flipped on I-88 near Oak Brook, Meyers joined roughly 10 other bystanders who helped free the man before paramedics arrived.
The crash occurred about 6:47 a.m., and ABC 7 Chicago's Chopper 7HD caught it live.
By the time Meyers pulled up, the impromptu team of first responders already had flipped the truck off its roof back on its wheels.
"When we talk about this job, any one of us would have done that, especially with our training," said Meyers, a firefighter/paramedic who works full-time in Rosemont and part-time with the Montgomery and Countryside Fire Protection District. "It was amazing to see how many other people who aren't in this career field stopped to help."
Pulling on the firefighter "bunker pants" he keeps in his truck, Meyers checked on the driver, 32-year-old Orlando Hernandez, and held him up while other bystanders cut his seat belt.
Hernandez told ABC 7 he thinks he could have died if not for the good Samaritans who stopped to make sure he wasn't stuck.
"It was definitely a horrific crash," Meyers said. "You're expecting the worst and hoping for the best."
The best came true for Hernandez, who was scratched and bruised but otherwise physically OK. Meyers even got to meet and talk with Hernandez later on, which he said was a full-circle moment not typically possible when firefighters bring crash victims to hospitals for care.
Meyers' full-time bosses in the Rosemont Bureau of Fire Suppression got excited about his assist and publicized it through a news release, with Superintendent Donald Stephens III saying the help he provided shows Meyers' character and dedication.
"I'm not surprised that he acted while off duty -- that's just who he is," Stephens said in the release. "We take an oath to protect and serve and that oath does not expire when we punch out each day. Tommy proved that on Monday and we are all proud to have him on our team."
And when Meyers didn't make it on time to the shift he had picked up Monday in Montgomery, the higher-ups there were understanding.
"I was a little late," he said. "But my boss was OK with it."