Most of the time police work is just as messy and chaotic as human life in general. But every once in a while, if you're lucky, things can turn out like a Hollywood movie, where those in danger are saved by the good guys in cinematically spectacular fashion. In Philadelphia recently, two girls trapped in a house fire were crying hysterically and convinced they were about to be burned alive. Bianca Scott, seven years old, and her older sister, Ketura Lang, desperately pounded their fists against the second-floor window of their grandmother's smoldering row house.
The heat was melting the paint on the walls. The girls choked on plumes of black smoke from an out-of-control kitchen fire while their relatives watched helplessly and prayed for a miracle from the street.
The miracle did arrive - three Philly cops, Ryan Sullivan, Michael Pazdan and Ryan Clement, from the 22nd district in North Philadelphia, were on their way to the scene of a street fight when they rode past and spotted a frantic Ida Jackson outside the burning house.
Pazdan, 26, said that he and Clement forced Jackson's front door open, hoping they could rush in and effect a quick rescue. No dice - the thick smoke and intense heat were just too much. "It burned my lungs, so I thought, ‘There has to be another option,'" Pazdan told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Pazdan yelled up to Bianca. "I said, ‘Sweetie, I can't get up there. You have to jump. I promise I'll catch you.'"
Pazdan knew the girl would feel about four times her actual weight.
"Sure enough, out the window she went," he said. "She fell right into my arms and didn't budge. It felt great."
But there was no time to celebrate. Sullivan, 23, noticed that Ketura, 13, was getting overwhelmed by the smoke she had inhaled.
"She was in bad shape," said Sullivan, who served a four-year tour in the Marines. "She looked delirious. Her eyes were rolling in the back of her head and it looked like she was about to pass out." One neighbor rushed over with a ladder, while Pazdan scrambled into another resident's house to scrounge up couch cushions, in case Ketura tumbled.
Sullivan clambered up the ladder and lunged for the girl. He grabbed her and the two made the climb back down the ladder to safety.
As is almost always the case, the cops were quick to credit the positive outcome to everyone that tried to help and dismissed any talk of heroism. Sullivan and Pazdan humbly described their actions as simply part of their job.
"You never know what you'll run into," Pazdan said. "We're really happy it all worked out."
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