Sat. Dec 4th, 2021




Rafael, 67, has come back to life thanks to the police who have reconstructed for ABC how they managed to rescue him from a fire in his Toledo apartment. It was barely five minutes, but it seemed like a world. “If you take another minute, this man will die.” The doctor from the health team told him, who managed to stabilize Rafael on the street after half an hour. Now he is seriously ill in the hospital, surely without knowing the risk that the agents ran last Sunday to get him out of his home, on Río Cañamares street in the Santa María de Benquerencia neighborhood.

One thirty in the morning. The 112 emergency service warns: “A person is trapped and hits a floor”. The local policemen Kike and Víctor, on the run, are the first to arrive at the house, small and on the ground floor of the building, where Rafael lives alone.

Rafael, next to the ironing board, about five meters from the door
Rafael, next to the ironing board, about five meters from the door – Video of the local Police

Adrenaline Rush. They don’t think twice. With their kicks, they manage to break down the door, but an impressive, toxic puff of black smoke greets them. Inside, the darkness is broken by artificial light coming from the landing. “Take a breath … One, two and three!” While a neighbor shines one of his flashlights on them, Kike and Víctor go bare-chested into the wolf’s mouth to find Rafael, unconscious and lying on the living room floor. It’s about five meters from the entrance, but to them it seems 50. They get to take it from a kind of feathers or jacket; They drag it a “little” but the hood breaks, or something similar, and they keep the piece of the garment in their hands.

Suffocated by the effort and the smoke, they have to go out for a breath and go back inside. They return for Rafael and with another municipal agent, Juande, and Pedro, a national policeman who arrives with his partner Esteban, who is carrying a crowbar in his hands. They all form a chain, like the ones in Fuenteovejuna, in which Pedro is the battering ram. “It’s there, it’s there!” Kike yells.


The national policeman remembers the advice of the training courses. «The image is dantesque. The smoke always goes up and I get on all fours, like in the trenches; I get to him and hook him. Behind, the team. Kike, who records the entire rescue with the camera on his chest, gives instructions for the others to drag Pedro and Rafael’s inert body when possible: “Shoot!”

But the poisonous cloud and the lack of light are not the only obstacles. There are other unexpected ones: Rafael has many objects on the ground. A possible case of Diogenes syndrome? An ironing board causes rescuers to chain backward. They are already without strength, lack of oxygen and with puffs of smoke inside their lungs. Pedro, the battering ram, stumbles a second time, although he manages to drag his companions out of hell. And Rafael, too.

Before they leave to continue patrolling, the medical team doctor tells them that they have saved Rafael’s life “in extremis”. For a minute.

The health team treats Rafael on the street
The health team treats Rafael on the street – National Police

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