Ohio Firefighters Blame Digital Radio System for Failed Mayday Call

Two Cincinnati firefighters blame Hamilton County's digital radio system for what they believe was a missed mayday call at a Jan. 7 blaze, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.

Firefighter Kevin Phillips and Lt. Tim Pride became trapped by a stairwell in a burning apartment building after attempting to rescue a woman who was able to find her way out before they did.

Phillips fell down the stairs while looking for a way out. The impact knocked his helmet and air mask off, causing him to inhale the smoke.

Pride immediately relayed a distress call over his radio.

"Mayday, mayday, mayday," he called out.

The commanding officer should have responded to the call, but he only heard silence.

He made the call again and still received no response.

"Is anybody copying?" he asked.

A rescue squad responding to the fire luckily heard Pride, but the newspaper report says that it took nearly three minutes before the commanding officer set a rescue in motion.

Pride was able to help the down firefighter to the third floor, onto a balcony and down a fire truck ladder.

"It seemed like an eternity," Phillips told the newspaper this week.

"For a long time it seemed like we were the only two in the building," he said. "It's a helpless feeling, a very lonely feeling."

The firefighter is currently recovering at home from a broken hand and nose and doctors have told him his recovery will take at least six weeks.

The The Cincinnati Enquirer says the two firefighters and their union are calling for fixes to the radio system and fire officials are looking at the incident to see if anything could have been done differently.