Firefighter/EMT Salvatore Mastrodomenico
Photo credit: Chicago Fire Department
Chicago Firefighter/EMT Salvatore Mastrodomenico stays humble while talking about a rescue he helped make last summer that has gained him a lot of attention.
He is quick to point out that Lt. Gilbert Munoz -- who nominated him for a Firehouse Heroism award, which he won -- deserves just as much credit as he has received.
"This is a team sport. You can't do any of these things unless you have a team. Some days you get lucky and you're the one to find someone," he said. "Everyone else on the scene -- we all did a good job. It wasn't a one man job. It never is."
They were on Truck 49 as they responded to a basement fire at a residential structure at around 7:30 on July 24, 2010.
Mastrodomenico began breaking the windows to a partially boarded up house when Munoz radioed that there was someone still inside and they both went in.
The burning basement was flooded from rain that day and there was clutter that reached to the ceiling.
There was zero visibility and each firefighter went to opposite sides of a bed to feel for a body.
"It just happened he was on my side of the bed," Mastrodomenico said.
Firefighters outside the structure had begun knocking the fire down and by that time the smoke had cleared considerably and they were able to better locate the body.
They pulled him out of the water and brought him to an ambulance crew that revived him.
He said the rescue was due in a large part to him and Munoz working as a team.
"Luckily they haven't cut our manpower here and we can send two guys in," he said. "We just went back to our training. You do a rapid primary search, but you have to just do the best you can."
He said he's honored to be recognized for his efforts but said that it's not something that will go to his head.
"There're guys that do stuff every day on this job that aren't recognized," he said. "I don't think I'm better than anybody and there are plenty of firefighters who have performed more impressive rescues."