Local Editorials

SVM Editorial: We salute a Rock Falls rescuer

A city worker who saved a woman from atop a burning house deserves recognition for his good deed. Others can still step forward to help the woman’s family with financial support.

Rock Falls Mayor Bill Wescott (left) presents Kaleb Martin with a copy of a proclamation honoring his actions at the Feb. 6 City Council meeting. Martin helped a woman to safety from the roof of a burning house in Rock Falls on Dec. 20.[]

It’s not every day that you get a chance to rescue someone from danger or distress.

For Kaleb Martin, Dec. 20 turned out to be one of those rare days.

Martin, 29, is an electrical department lineman for the city of Rock Falls and has been so for
11 years.

On Dec. 20, Martin was driving through town on city business when, according to an SVM news story, “he saw a pillar of smoke in the sky.”

Curious, Martin steered his vehicle in the direction of the smoke and followed it to a home at 511 11th Ave.

Martin arrived to find flames shooting out of the house, two of its occupants standing out front, and a woman perched on the roof.

A proclamation issued by the Rock Falls City Council describes what Martin did next:

“He proceeded to his truck and returned with a ladder, raising it to the roof and assisted the woman off of the structure to safety without hesitation.”

The woman, Patsy Blaha, and two other occupants were taken to CGH Medical Center, treated for smoke inhalation and burns, and released. A fourth occupant was airlifted to a Rockford hospital for treatment and has since been released.

Mayor Bill Wescott and the Rock Falls City Council honored Martin for his heroism at last week’s meeting.

Martin did not wish to comment after the presentation, and his humility is to be commended.

Also worthy of commendation is his willingness to become involved in an emergency situation.

When he first saw the column of smoke, Martin could have ignored it and proceeded on his way.

But he didn’t.

He took the initiative to investigate the smoke, and as it turned out, was the first person to arrive on the scene of the unfolding emergency.

Martin quickly assessed the situation, realized his vehicle carried a ladder that could help the woman make a safe exit down from the roof, and proceeded to effect a rescue.

City officials rightly saluted him for his resourcefulness, and so do we.

We also note that other people still have a chance to be heroes by helping Patsy Blaha and her family, who lost all their possessions in the Dec. 20 fire.

A Go Fund Me page has been set up to assist: go to gofundme.com/ge5wq-house-fire to donate and for more information.

Martin rescued a key family member from danger. Others have the opportunity to rescue the entire family from financial distress. The time to act is now.