First day on the job: Orange County firefighter saves crash victim on way home from work

Jacob Perez graduated from fire academy on Sept. 2

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – An Orange County firefighter put his training to use when he came upon a crash scene on the way home from his first-ever shift.

Jacob Perez, assigned to Station 44 in Winter Garden, completed his first 24-hour shift as a firefighter two days after graduating on Sept. 2, according to the Orange County Fire Rescue.

“I saw the driver slumped over into his airbag. As soon as I saw that I pulled over and ran over to the car. He had slurred speech,” Perez said.

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Perez said he was heading home when he saw a crashed vehicle and a man slumped over into the airbag.

“I immediately pulled over and ran to the car. I was asking the driver questions, but his answers were slurred,” Perez said. “I was going through my training in my head, all the steps they taught us.”

According to Orange County Fire Rescue, Perez stabilized the man’s neck and held his head while other first responders arrived. Another off-duty firefighter also helped the victim before Clermont fire units arrived.

“He made sure that he kept their C-Spine which basically keeps them from becoming further injured or paralyzed,” Lieutenant Charles Orme said.

That driver was flown to a hospital. His condition not immediately available, but Perez said it was a learning experience and the reason why he decided to become a firefighter. To help save lives.

“It was pretty cool. Being new to this, I haven’t seen much just yet so being able to help out and see how other departments function was good,” said Perez.

“We’re proud of him and he did a great job and we’re happy he’s part of our team,” said Orme.

“These are the type of individuals (who) Orange County recruits,” Fire Chief James M. Fitzgerald said. “Firefighters who are committed to public safety, regardless of whether they are on or off duty. With just one day on the job, we’re proud of firefighter Perez’s ability to put all of his training to work.”

Perez recently finished nearly ten months of training as a firefighter graduating as part of Orange County Fire Rescues recruit class 91. Perez said he’s already loving his job and was thankful he was able to use his training to help someone off the clock.

About the Authors:

Brenda, a UCF grad, joined the team in March 2021.

Crystal Moyer is a multimedia journalist who joined the News 6 team in February 2020. Crystal comes to Central Florida from WKMG’s sister station, WJXT in Jacksonville, where she worked as a traffic anchor and MMJ.