Lt. Dana Collum and Sgt. Dan Bickers had just finished lunch when they heard a call about a fire at 16 Southern Woods Drive just off Ga. 156 and turned around, Bickers said in an interview with the Rome News-Tribune on Nov. 1, just shortly after the incident happened.
When they arrived at the residence they realized someone was inside, and the doors and windows were locked.
Collum kicked in the front door, and once the officers were inside they realized the house was filled with smoke. They could not see but did hear the resident crying for help.
They found the resident in her bed with flames at the foot of the bed.
The officers extinguished the flames and tried to carry the woman out of the residence using her motorized wheelchair, but the wheelchair was badly damaged by fire and could not be used.
Bickers and Collum removed her from the bed using an office chair. She was treated for smoke inhalation, but Bickers and Collum refused treatment and went back to work.
The fire was caused when a cigarette made contact with an oxygen tank, fire officials said.
“Both Lt. Collum and Sgt. Bickers exhibited tremendous courage while disregarding their own safety when they entered the smoke-filled house where they searched until finding the bedridden woman and taking her to safety, ultimately saving her life. I am very proud of both officers for the courage they showed in such a dangerous situation. Our department is very fortunate to have officers of this caliber,” said Chief Bill Shiflett. “They are very deserving of each award they receive, and it is an honor to present the awards to each officer.”
Collum is a 25-year veteran of the department. Bickers has been with the department for 15 years.