It’s not often that employees of Jefferson Parish’s Streets Department save lives while on the job.
But a crew of six did just that on the morning of June 12, when they thought they would be pouring a concrete street slab in Metairie but instead ended up rescuing three people from a burning house.
The crew members — Ricky Walker, Rickey Addison, Keith Ellis, Paul Ellis, Don Cunningham and Randy Bass — on Wednesday all received certificates of merit for their actions from Jefferson Parish President John Young, who hailed them all as heroes.
“It’s something anybody would do,” Walker said outside the Jefferson Parish Council’s chamber in Gretna. “When it happened, it was so big of a fire, and there was so much smoke, we knew automatically to go down there and see what was going on.”
On the day of the blaze, the men all showed up to the 1100 block of Melody Drive about 10:15 a.m.
They began lowering an 11-inch riser in a street slab and were preparing to pour concrete when Paul Ellis noticed smoke and flames coming out of a nearby home, officials said.
Cunningham immediately dialed 911 to report the blaze. He and Keith Ellis knocked on the home’s door, and the crew helped an elderly couple and their caretaker escape the fire safely, officials said.
Keith Ellis and Addison then took the residents’ car keys and moved the vehicles from the driveway to a safe distance. Cunningham and Keith Ellis then knocked on the neighboring houses’ doors to alert residents to the emergency.
When firefighters arrived to douse the blaze, the crew helped hook the hose up to the fire hydrant.
No details about what caused the fire or the extent of the damage were immediately available Wednesday.
Sean Duckett, a road maintenance superintendent for the parish, commended his colleagues for thinking as quickly as they did.
“That elderly couple could’ve been burned,” Duckett said. “They responded very well. They took some of the training being taught during the safety meeting — ‘if you see a need, act upon the need’ — because we’re out to serve the citizens.”
Walker and Addison work for the parish as foremen. Keith Ellis is an equipment operator. Paul Ellis, Cunningham and Bass are laborers.