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A house is nearly engulfed in flames.

RCMP officers weigh risks and act fast to save young life

Officers rescued a child from the house fire with minutes to spare. Credit: RCMP


It was almost the end of a shift when a frantic knocking at the detachment door and panicked shouts alerted officers to something happening across the street in Mosakahiken Cree Nation in Moose Lake, Man.

"All four of us ran outside to see what was going on and right across the road, a house was on fire," says RCMP Cst. BJ Harder.

Smoke and fire were quickly filling the bungalow, as neighbours threw snow at the fire in a desperate attempt to quell the flames. The residents were shouting that their five-year-old child was still inside.

"As soon as I heard that there was a kid inside, I knew we were going to have to make every attempt to get him out," says Cst. Logan Carlson, who started at the Moose Lake detachment in the summer of 2021, his first RCMP posting after graduating from the RCMP's Depot training academy.

Breaking windows

Officers tried to go inside the house, but thick smoke forced them to retreat.

"We knew we had to go in, but I couldn't see six inches in front of me with a flashlight," says Harder. Officers had to make a difficult decision fast. Breaking windows and opening doors would allow smoke to escape, making a rescue attempt easier, but it would also allow in more air to fuel the fire.

"There was a risk in breaking the windows but, if we didn't, we weren't going to be able to get inside," says Carlson, who was calculating the dangers based on his experience as a wildfire firefighter before joining the RCMP.

Searching through smoke

Once some smoke had cleared, Harder and Carlson went inside the burning home.

Staying low to avoid the heavy smoke, they first searched the room the parents thought the child was in, but couldn't find him. After asking the parents where else he could be, they returned inside for a second attempt.

Poking their heads out the broken windows for fresh air, the officers worked their way to the next bedroom to look for any signs of the child. Then, a hopeful sight.

"I saw two feet sticking out under a blanket on the floor. I pulled the blanket off, put my mask over his face, and I just yelled at everyone to get out," says Harder.

Making it out before the flames grew even bigger, the officers on scene rushed the boy, who was conscious but struggling to catch his breath, to the local nursing station for an assessment and treatment.

Reflecting on the rescue

"I felt like we were at the house for a least a half an hour. But from the time they were knocking on the door to the time we got the little guy into the nursing station, it was nine minutes. Everything just happened so fast," Harder says.

A few weeks later, Harder and Carlson checked in with the mother and boy and were happy to find he had made a full recovery.

Despite the frightening ordeal, Harder and Carlson say their actions are simply part of the job.

"It was instinct for this call. I'd do it ten times out of ten," says Harder.

Both officers stressed that the response could only happen the way it did because of the support and teamwork of all officers at the detachment.

"We have to rely on each other, especially in a situation like that where you're going into a high-risk area," says Carlson.

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