An assistant fire chief from Minnesota is being hailed as a hero after he caught a three-month-old baby who was tossed from the second story balcony of a burning apartment complex in North St. Paul. When North St. Paul Assistant Fire Chief Dustin Kalis responded to a fire at the 24-unit apartment complex, he thought the biggest issue would be dragging the firehouse from the hydrant because there was no parking outside the building or a fire hydrant nearby.
He said his training prepared him for those minor inconveniences but did not prepare him to catch a three-month-old who was dropped from a second story balcony by her panicked father.
“We don’t practice that,” Kalis said. “We don’t have drills where we throw stuff off the balcony. Nothing comes close to that.”
The panicked father ran out onto his balcony carrying his three-month-old daughter wrapped in a pink blanket after the hallways became filled with smoke, preventing him from escaping the burning building. He managed to get the attention of Kalis, who did not have time to think before the young child was dropped into his arms.
“You could tell he was pretty panicked. He was ready to just get her down and get her out of the apartment,” Kalis said. “I realized this was his only option.
“I didn’t really have any other option than to catch her.”
After Kalis handed the girl off to another firefighter he coached the father off the balcony as well.
Fire Chief Scott Duddeck said that there were no injuries in the fire, which damaged three units in the building, and added that firefighters also rescued two cats from the building.