TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - Toledo fire and rescue members as well as citizens were recognized Thursday night for putting their lives on the line to save the lives of others.
Every year, the Toledo Fire Department holds the ceremony. A committee receives nominees and selects the winners. One story involved Private Noel Garcia, who just retired after 34 years of service in the department.
Inside the ceremony was one story after another of amazing heroism, but firefighters will tell you they don't deserve to be called heroes. They say they're just doing their job.
Firefighter Noel Garcia was off duty when he saved the life of Merle Downs. Last February, Merle was inside the Circle K on Woodville Road when his heart stopped beating and he collapsed.
"Something broke loose and plugged that vein up. Bottom of my heart not getting any blood. Just shut off," Merle explained.
Garcia was on his way to Columbus and happened to have stopped in the store. The Northwood Fire Department was called, and they rushed to the scene.
Oddly, that isn't the first time Garcia has saved Downs' life. Twenty years earlier, Garcia was dispatched to Downs' north Toledo home because of a heart problem. Garcia saved Downs' life two decades earlier also.
"Grateful to see him alive and see family and happiness. Like that old cliché' 'priceless'," Garcia said.
He saved his life not once, but twice, because Noel Garcia was just doing his job.