Officer Placed in Induced Coma After Entering Burning Home to Rescue Trapped Dog

Detective Julia Caldwell of the Ewing Police Department in New Jersey has spent the last 12 years as an officer, but a rescue she made last month changed her life. On June 2, Caldwell was on patrol, assigned to keep an eye on an elementary school in an effort to provide extra security to public schools in the wake of the Uvalde tragedy. She heard about a house fire over the radio, and while she was concerned about leaving the school, she also wanted to offer assistance in the emergency, especially because she was so close. When she arrived on the scene and learned that there were no people in the home but that there was a dog, she knew she had to help. The dog was locked in a pen, and if someone didn’t rescue it, it would certainly die. A neighbor was able to show first responders which window to go through, and Caldwell, who is 105 pounds, said, “Get me in there!” according to NJ.com. At first, her sergeant said, “You can’t go in there,” but she responded, “Yes, I can. Watch.” Another officer helped her through the window, and she was in the room. While that particular room was not yet on fire, it was hot and filled with invisible gases. Caldwell said it was hazy and like being underwater. It took Caldwell about 90 seconds to reach the pen, unlatch it, wrap the dog in a blanket and get it to the window. She lifted the 70-pound dog into the waiting arms of the officers outside. She followed the dog out, but it wasn’t long before she started experiencing strange symptoms. Her speech started to change and her tongue started to swell. The next thing she knew, she was waking up in the hospital with officers around her. She learned she’d been placed in a medically induced coma after experiencing respiratory tract damage and had reactive airway disease, which could affect her for the rest of her life. When Caldwell told her pulmonologist she had only been in the room for about 90 seconds, the doctor told her, “Honey, that’s a minute too long.” For a month after the incident, Caldwell was off-duty. She was eventually cleared for desk duty, but not full duty. The Ewing Police Department posted a report following the fire. “To clarify, the residents were not home when the fire started but arrived on scene quickly,” the police department shared. “They did not leave their dog inside a burning home. In fact, the resident called us and told us that a dog was inside when they learned about the fire. Without that call we would never have known about it.” Caldwell’s husband and many others have voiced their pride in and thankfulness for her actions, and the hero — a dog lover herself — said she had to do something. “I look at it this way,” Caldwell said. “I have two dogs, and I just couldn’t imagine losing my house and everything in it, and my dogs, in the blink of an eye. “I knew I could get in that window, and I just thought, let me get in and get out.” This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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