Public scrutiny is befalling local law enforcement across the country. However, recent honorable efforts from a local Nome police officer are challenging that popular view.
Nome Police Chief Mike Heintzelman summarized the significance of Officer Austin Martino’s recent actions.
“What it was told [to] me when I was a young officer was that you have hours and hours of boredom, surrounded by a minute of sheer terror. You know, no one wants to go running into a burning building. Quite the opposite, everybody wants to go the other way. What makes someone want to go in there and save somebody… Well that could be answered by Officer Martino.”– Chief Heintzelman
Last month, Officer Martino responded to an incident where a Nome residence was on fire with a woman inside.
“I knew there were people on the way to come help, but I didn’t know the timeline of anything. I had to make a decision, and that was the decision I made; just go in and see if I can make a difference.”– Officer Austin Martino
On September 17th at 11:20pm Martino was responding to a welfare check. He arrived on scene with little to no information of what was occurring and was flagged down by a woman on the phone with dispatch. She described a fire in the back house.
Following his training and instincts Officer Martino grabbed a mask from his patrol vehicle and went into the house holding his mask because it was not fitting right. While in the house he made contact with a woman unconscious on a bed.
“I was in there, and I tried to wake her up, and I got her awake. I tried to pull her off the bed, and I only had one hand at this time because I was still holding my mask on. She pushed me off and broke my grip on her. At this time I heard thumping in the house.”
That thumping came from Officer Raymond Murray who was second to arrive, entered the house, and was attempting to extinguish the fire. Martino back tracked through the smoke to find Officer Murray.
“That was when I started to yell to him that I need help to get this lady out. Between the two of us, we had her on each arm, and we pulled her out of the house. We laid her on the ground outside until EMS and the fire department showed up.”
After additional emergency services arrived, Martino and Murray re-entered the house when it was safe to do so. As the officers were looking around, they saw two propane tanks, and four or five camp fuel canisters that were in close proximity to where the fire was.
“Officer Murray was like, ‘Make sure you get a picture of those propane tanks.’ Initially we had no idea that they were even there. Yeah, it made you think twice when it was all said and done.”
No one was severely injured in this incident, thanks to the timely efforts and actions of officers Martino and Murray.
Image at top: On the left is Officer Austin Martino, who recently ran into a burning building to save a Nome woman. Photo provided by the Nome Police Department through social media (2020).