Michael Henry, a firefighter/paramedic with the Franklin Fire Department, joined the team in 2012. Brad Engle, a firefighter/EMS specialist, came aboard five years later.
Both were on duty at Station 3 on Feb. 26, when the call came in about a suicidal man on Bakers Bridge Avenue.
“When we first put out, we didn’t know much about the incident,” said Engle, who also is a military veteran and Franklin native.
When they arrived, they saw Franklin Police Sgt. David Mullins with a man dangling from his arms and civilians hanging onto the man’s shirt. As the firefighters got closer, they saw the man push off the bridge that crosses over Interstate 65 in an effort to jump and they saw Mullins with the man’s wrist in an arm lock.
“I could see he had his feet under the lip,” said Henry, who is a former police officer and, like Engle, also a military veteran.
The firefighters rushed to the group fighting to save the man’s life. They could see those holding onto the man were becoming fatigued. The man was too far down to grab so Henry put a leg over the rail and Engle grabbed Henry’s belt to keep him from falling over the bridge.
Henry grabbed the man’s shirt and, with Mullins and the others, pulled. The man didn’t move.
“He was big. He was dead weight and he made the decision he wanted to die,” Henry said.
Henry reached farther down and grabbed the man’s pants and belt.
“We made a last-ditch effort to get him over (the rail),” Henry said. “One, two, three, the three of us pulled and got him over the rail.”
The man tried to get up and it took Mullins as well as the firefighters to restrain him until the ambulance arrived and EMS personnel sedated him.
“We’re trained to do ropes, but in this moment, when seconds mattered, we didn’t have time to set up ropes,” Engle said. “We just grabbed what we could (on the man.) Our training kicked in.”
The civilians who held onto the man until Mullins and the other first responders arrived played a major role in keeping the distraught man from jumping off the bridge, Henry said.
“Hopefully he’s doing well, now,” the firefighters said.
Henry grew up appreciating public service. His father is a retired Indiana State Trooper and Henry wanted to be just like his dad. Henry joined the Army when he was still in high school under the delayed-entry program and spent the summer between his junior and senior years in boot camp.
“My dad said (the military) would be a way to test whether I wanted to be a police officer,” he said.
Henry was assigned to a communications unit and deployed to Iraq with the 101st Airborne during Desert Storm. He was discharged in 1993 and came to Franklin, where he became an EMT and a paramedic working with the ambulance service before he decided to enter the police academy. Upon graduation, Henry got a job with the Springfield Police Department in 1999 and served that community until 2002, when he took a job with the White House Police Department.
After two years, Henry realized law enforcement was not his dream, so he returned to riding in an ambulance. In 2012, he applied to the Franklin and Nashville fire departments.
“Franklin called first,” he said, “I wish I started 25 years ago.”
From the time Engle was a little boy he dreamed of becoming a part of the Franklin Fire Department.
“I had two goals, the Marines — carrying on a family tradition — and being a firefighter,” he said.
After he graduated from high school, Engle joined the Marines and was assigned to a mechanic unit.
While transitioning back to civilian life and deciding what he wanted to do with his life, Engle again gravitated to public service. He became a certified EMT and joined the Spring Hill EMS, where he remained for four years. In 2017, he received an offer from the Franklin Fire Department, where he is now fulfilling his second goal in a job he dreamed of having since he was a boy.
Carole Robinson may be contacted at email@example.com