Off-duty Murgon paramedic saves family from house fire
WITH nearly 10 years of service to Queensland communities, Murgon paramedic Michael Formica could never have anticipated what unfolded on a recent work trip down south.
His efforts to rescue a family from a house engulfed by fire have been recognised by his peers and the wider community as nothing but "heroic”.
On Monday, September 9 the officer-in-charge at Murgon was sent to Toowoomba to assist with the bush fires.
After Mr Formica clocked off on Tuesday, September 10 at 5pm, he organised to visit his cousin for a coffee catch up.
Still in uniform, the whole incident was brought to their attention when the pair noticed smoke pouring out of a front yard four houses down.
"My cousin has two children so he decided to stay with them and I would just go to see what was happening,” Mr Formica said.
"The house was well ablaze and I heard a commotion around the back of the house.
"When I walked around to the backyard, a gentlemen was hosing it down and I asked him if anyone was inside.
"I heard screaming coming from inside the building, so I entered through the back door.
"I managed to pull the mother from the house and she collapsed outside.
"She was inconsolable and could hardly speak, but managed to tell me that her 8-year-old daughter was still inside.”
After he heard this, Mr Formica re-entered the building another five times to locate the missing girl.
He crawled along the floor amongst the heavy, thick smoke and managed to pull two dogs from the house who had been trapped from the fire.
After suffering from smoke inhalation, both Mr Formica and the mother were vomiting black soot.
It was at this point the paramedic knew time was starting to slip away from them.
"I thought, 'I have one more turn left in me',” he said.
"As I went to enter the house, I saw a girl in the garage that was attached to the house.
"I helped her get up and took both the mother and her daughter around to the front.
"The fireys got there as we made it to the front and they had enough oxygen to give to the mum,” he said.
Once the ambulance services arrived the woman's daughter and Mr Formica were treated.
In the days after the incident, the local paramedic said he was grateful for the people in his inner circle.
"We are a tight knit group of people here at Murgon,” he said.
"I have been here for just over three years now.
"I have received an outpouring of support from the local ambulance community and my management from Toowoomba has been outstanding,” he said.
Working previously as an electrical contractor, Mr Formica said he took the steps to switch to the ambulance service over a decade ago.
He said he always enjoyed the community service work when he was an SES volunteer and decided he wanted to make it his full time job.
Along with his wife Natalie, who is a paramedic in Gayndah, he said the best part of his job was being able to assist people in different times of need.
"I get to help people through the worst times of their life or sometimes it can be the best,” he said.
"One day we could be delivering babies or other times I'm just happy to have a chat with the elderly on a patient transfer and hold their hand.
"For me it's about adding that humanising element to our job.”