Tulsa teen honored by EMSA with 'Community Spirit Award'

Monday, May 20th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A Green Country teen is awarded for her act of heroism. 16-year-old Melissa Byford helped a man who involved in an accidental fire. News on Six reporter Patrina Adger has the story.

"I was just helping a friend that day." In December of last year, 66-year-old David Willis used gasoline to start a friend's truck. "Well, it backfired and shot flames all over me and the truck." "Somebody was walking in flames with his arms up, it was horrible."

Melissa Byford saw it happen and quickly helped Willis while her mother Jamie called 911. EMSA: "This is EMSA. What's the address of your emergency?" Caller: "We're at the corner of 57th and Union and this guy's truck caught fire and there was another guy ridin' on the outside and he caught on fire." EMSA: "He actually caught on fire?" Caller: "Yes, he's seriously injured, he's burned!”

Melissa and her mother were driving on Union Street when Melissa noticed Willis was on fire she jumped out of the car, grabbed him and rolled him into a puddle to extinguish the fire. “Stop, drop and roll and that's exactly what she did."

Willis suffered third degree burns to his wrist and his neck. “I ripped his shirt off, and he was it was horrible the way he looked, he was in pain, I could tell." Some call it heroic; Melissa says she did what she had to do. That selfless act of bravery was recognized as EMSA awarded Melissa the first ever, ‘Community Spirit Award.’ Award-recognizing individuals who've gone a step beyond to help someone.

"So, if you would accept this plaque from us. We would just like to thank you." Melissa and her mother met Willis and his wife for the first time. “God bless you and your daughter." Sharing hugs and emotions that spoke much louder than words. Willis calls Melissa his ‘angel.’ Willis says he hopes his story will inspire others like Melissa to lend a helping hand to anyone who needs it.

This week is National Emergency Medical Services week. A week in which EMS officials celebrate the work EMS crews do throughout the country and to educate the public about their profession.