Reservist

ISS2 2016

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

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Reservist Helps Pull Neighbor From Burning Home Story by PA3 Nathan Cox, 5th District Public Affairs The sounds of commotion and confusion along with cries of 'Fire! Fire!' jolted Thomas Yarbrough, a Reserve Yeoman, from a deep sleep. It was one o'clock in the morning on Memorial Day weekend 2015, in Waldorf, Md. Yarbrough was disoriented and groggy as he stumbled to his feet to see what was causing the uproar. He quickly ran to his daughter's room. She was safe. His eyes darted throughout his house. No fire. As he reached for the front door, his brother Chris was directly behind him. They opened the door and what they saw shocked them. The house across the street was engulfed in flames. As Yarbrough ran down the street he could see a mother and daughter running towards him in distress. The mother said their house caught fire and they were able to escape but her boyfriend was still inside. Yarbrough ran onto the porch to check the front door. It was locked. He looked down and realized in the rush to leave his house that he was barefoot. As he considered what to do once inside the burning home a police officer arrived on scene. Yarbrough explained there was a man inside. The police officer stepped back and kicked the door. Smoke rushed through the open door as if looking for an escape from the heat. The police officer crawled on his knees to avoid the flames above. Yarbrough followed suit and crawled into the home scanning the room for his neighbor. The room was filled with smoke, dark ash and soot. Yarbrough held his breath and squinted his eyes. Through the cloud of smoke he saw socks, then legs. The man was lying on the floor near the kitchen. The police officer grabbed one of the man's legs. Yarbrough grabbed the other as they pulled him through the blanket of smoke towards the front door. Yarbrough could see the burns on his neighbor's head and arms. He sensed the man was disoriented and struggling to breath. The men carried the victim to the front lawn and laid him on his side to assist his breathing. An ambulance arrived and the emergency team began caring for the man. It all happened so fast, a matter of moments. Yarbrough started his Coast Guard career in 2007. He served three years on active duty before transitioning to the Reserve in 2010. He now serves as a senior Yeoman at Sector Baltimore. "Our Coast Guard motto is Semper Paratus," he said. "We are there to be ready in time of need." Yarbrough is proud of his actions on the night of the fire and credits his Coast Guard training as a major reason he acted so quickly. "We learn a lot in boot camp. Then in our career we have competencies like CPR," he said. "You go back to the basics and learn how to respond and how to control the situation." Yarbrough said, "In the Coast Guard we serve people and the community. That's what I love being a part of." When asked why he decided to help and not wait for the fire department to arrive he said, "I was just a Samaritan and I jumped to action and I would hope that anyone else would do the same thing. To do what is right. To help someone in need." The Charles County Sheriff's office issued Yarbrough and his brother a Certificate of Appreciation for bravery and action in the fire incident. "I am proud," he said. "It is the right thing to do as an American and human being. It is the right thing to do to help your brother and sister in need, no matter who they are." Yarbrough was quick to share that his family worked as a team and that is what he is most proud of. On the night of the fire, Yarbrough's mother Zoe cared for the mother and her daughter by feeding them and allowing them to sleep at their home. Later she organized a community effort through local churches that helped gather clothing and toys for the victim's family. "When there are tragedies and natural disasters, people's true colors come out," he said. "You see how individuals come together as a team to help." Yarbrough said other than being covered from head to toe in black ash he did not sustain any injuries and is happy that his neighbor is alive. Yarbrough enjoys less eventful nights these days. He is putting his G.I. Bill to use as a full time student at the Art Institute of Washington. He is in the culinary arts program. Yarbrough is pursuing his passion to become a chef and would like to lateral from the Yeoman rate to the Food Service Specialist rate. When asked what he learned from this incident, he said, "There is still love and hope out there. Despite living in a world with so much negativity, there are still those who will risk their own lives to do what they have to do to help others." � Firefghters survey the scene following the Memorial day House fre. Yn1 Thomas Yarbrough, a drilling reservist at Sector Baltimore. 44 RESERVIST � Issue 2 • 2016

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