— By JUDY SHERIDAN
Assistant Fire Marshal Frank Watson, in the news earlier this month for rescuing a visually impaired woman from her burning home, was recognized for his actions by Parker County commissioners Monday, along with fire dispatcher April Baldwin.
Both employees were commended for their roles in saving the life of Parker County resident Terri Wood, who called 911 Feb. 11 to report a fire that had trapped her in the bedroom of her home on Emerald Drive, south of Weatherford.
Local news outlets carried the inspiring story of how an off-duty Watson, who had met Wood and lived nearby, arrived at the smoke-filled home before other firefighters and guided and pulled the woman to safety.
But Watson credited Baldwin when he was invited to speak in court.
“If it wasn’t for the instructions that April gave [Wood] on the phone, she wouldn’t have made it till the first responders got there,” he told commissioners. “That was the most crucial thing.”
The commendation — signed by every member of commissioners’ court — detailed Baldwin’s contributions.
“You relied on your training and remained calm, guiding Ms. Wood to a window and helping her get it open,” the document stated. “By allowing her to breathe clean air and keeping her calm, you gave Assistant Fire Marshal Frank Watson crucial extra seconds that made a difference.”
Watson’s commendation recognized that the certified peace officer, firefighter and EMT acted “quickly and decisively” under pressure, risking his own life to save another’s and providing first aid and emergency care until more help arrived.
“Without the quick thinking of April and Frank, we may have had a very different outcome that evening,” Fire Marshal Shawn Scott said. “I’m very proud of the efforts of both of these individuals.
“We often joke about the hours we put in and the time from our lives that we give to this, but this is exactly the reason we do it, and this is exactly the reason we’re here.”
Scott said Baldwin, who dispatched the fire department to Wood’s house immediately, was dispatching her first structure fire call.
A volunteer alerted Watson, he said, knowing he lived near Wood.
Neither Baldwin nor Watson were expecting accolades, Judge Mark Riley remarked, noting that Scott learned of the rescue from another firefighter.
“That speaks volumes about these individuals who were ‘just doing their jobs,’” he said.
Firefighters from Emergency Services District No. 6 put out the fire quickly, Scott said, limiting the damage to the kitchen, where the fire began.