Democrat Photo | Jeanne Sager
JASON WELTON SAVED a Monticello man from a burning home last December and was recognized for it by the New York State Emergency Medical Services Council.
Just Doing His Job
By Jeanne Sager
NORTH BRANCH November 6, 2007 The thought that he could die never crossed Jason Welton’s mind.
He was out of the burning house, his breath coming out in black spurts of coughing, when he realized it was all over.
That was Dec. 22, the day Welton ran straight through the front door of Charles Tate’s home in the Liberty Street Housing development on Sturgis Road.
His shift with MobileMedic Ambulance Corps began at 7 a.m. that day, and the call from Tate’s medic alert system came in shortly after 8 a.m. at the latest, Welton recalled.
“We got it as an activated medical alert, that’s all we knew,” he said. “You know, like you see on TV where they hit the button, ‘Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.’”
Manning the rig with partner Svetlana Egorova, a MobileMedic paramedic, Welton remembers rounding the corner in the heart of Monticello and seeing smoke.
“The only thing I remember was saying to my partner we need to call in the fire,” Welton said.
He took off for the house, broke through the screen door, cutting his hand in the process, and then on through.
“I went right through the front door, I remember that,” he said. “Any other time, if you’re thinking about it, you’d have to bang on it eight times, but I went right through.”
Ten feet into the house, Welton located Tate on the kitchen floor, pinned between the wall and his wheelchair.
“By the looks of it, he was trying to get out and fell out of his chair,” Welton explained. “All I really remember was breaking his wheelchair, grabbing him and carrying him out of there.”
Welton has faced fire before he’s assistant chief of the North Branch Volunteer Fire Department.
There he responds to a call in turnout gear with a squad of volunteers.
That day he was alone in the house Egorova took over Tate’s care when Welton carried him out and he was dressed in just his uniform, a pair of pants and blue shirt with the MobileMedic logo emblazoned on the chest.
“I think the only thing I remembered from fire class was stay down low so you can breathe,” Welton admitted. “Even with that it was hard to breathe.”
He’s since learned the fire was started by a candle on Tate’s nightstand that fell over onto the mattress.
“Any fireman knows a mattress fire is going to be thick, heavy, black smoke,” Welton noted.
Welton and Egorova drove Tate to Catskill Regional Medical Center in Harris. Treated for smoke inhalation, he was released and Welton has no idea what became of him.
He moved on, finished out his shift and went home.
He kept quiet about the day’s events can’t even remember if he told wife Jenifer the details when he got home that evening.
Then he got the news.
He’d been named the Hudson Valley Regional Emergency Medical Services Council’s Basic Life Support Provider of the Year.
This time he told Jenifer but no one else.
That was June.
Then came a letter from the New York State Emergency Medical Services Council.
In a ceremony held this month, they were honoring Welton too as Basic Life Support Provider of the Year for the entire state.
The award shares a wall in his North Branch home with citations from the New York State Legislature and Assembly, the Village of Monticello, the United New York Network and MobileMedic owner Albee Bochman.
But Welton, who has worked as an EMT for MobileMedic for the past two years, isn’t looking for a pat on the back.
“I figured there were more people out there who probably deserved it more than I did,” he said with a shrug. “All I did was pull a guy out of a fire… out of a building full of smoke.
“You’ve got guys who do CPR for someone who’s having a heart attack, bring them back,” he said.
Welton gives full credit to Egorova for taking care of Tate that day. That same week, she saved a patient in severe respiratory distress.
As a paramedic, Egorova’s responsibilities on a call are different from Welton’s.
He’s classified as EMT or emergency medical technician.
“About a year’s worth of training,” Welton said. “I’m basic, they’re advanced. They use drugs…”
He fell into the life almost by accident.
Living in North Branch, Welton said he was informed one day by members of the fire department that they’d voted him into their membership.
He didn’t sign up they signed him up.
That was seven years ago, and today he’s first assistant chief with plans to one day serve as chief, and he does double duty as a member of the Jeffersonville First Aid Squad.
“I went to a few fire calls, didn’t have a clue what I was doing,” he recalled. “So an EMT course came up, and that was pretty cool.”
He started riding with the Jeff squad to learn more, and got hooked.
Although working at MobileMedic has reduced the amount of time Welton can give to the Jeff corps, he’s still an active member.
“For those volunteers who say they’re going to volunteer, they should actually do it and show up when they say they will,” he said.
His first year volunteering with Jeffersonville, Welton was runner-up for top call rider.
This year, he’s been on 50 to 60 calls.
Between the job and volunteering, Welton said the hours he spends away are tough on his wife and their two kids, but they make do.
He’s committed to volunteering.
“I kind of feel better about myself with that because I have nothing to gain from that,” he said. “Whereas I go to work, and I’m getting a paycheck.”
His reluctance to talk about his life-saving adventure last December is part of that.
He was just doing his job, Welton said.
He never considered the option of not going into that building.