Spirit of Courage Award- Officer Ross Gallagher
On Thursday, May 5, 2022, San Diego Fire-Rescue Chief Colin Stowell presented the 2022 Spirit of Courage Award to Ross Gallagher
Officer Ross Gallagher was off duty at a gas station on December 30, 2020. A call came over the radio about a vehicle-to-structure collision just a few blocks away. From experience, he knew that these calls could be serious, and every minute could make a real difference. He volunteered to go to the scene and arrived at the residential neighborhood in less than minute.
Footage taken after the crash shows how far the car had gone into the home.
Sprinting to the crash, Ross had to bend the garage door to enter the structure and assess the accident. He found the car’s engine running, the driver slumped over the steering wheel, and a persistent hissing noise. He rushed out to the sidewalk where the occupants of the house had gathered and learned no one else was in the home. When he confirmed the home used natural gas, he assumed the loud hissing sound was a leak.
Racing back to the accident, more urgent now knowing about the gas leak and with adrenaline kicking in, Officer Gallagher knew he had to turn the car engine off to reduce the very real risk of fire to the house and burn injury or death to him and the driver. He broke driver side window, lunged in to turn off the engine, then focused his attention to the woman in the driver’s seat. His lungs now burning and his breath becoming labored from inhaling the fumes, he attempted to revive the driver. His own coughing and dizziness intensified, yet he continued to pull her out of the car. The woman slightly regained consciousness but was so confused she couldn’t recognize the help he offered and was resisting his efforts.
Struggling with the disoriented woman and toxic fumes, Gallagher’s partner arrived on the scene and together they pulled the woman to safety.