LFD Honors Mom for Heroic Act

The fire board stands with Alisha Hendrickson, center, for photos. They are, from left, Tim Mueller, Dale White, (Hendrickson), Fire Chief Joseph Rodondi, Allen Forster and Robert Taylor. Board member Wyatt King was present via Zoom. Photos by Sarah Brown

The Lebanon Fire District honored a local gal for her heroism during their board meeting April 9.

Alisha Hendrickson was returning home after taking her son to his first Trailblazers game on March 9 when she saw what at first appeared to be a bonfire on River Drive.

“I was coming up past the dam and see a fire in the trees and I realized it was a car on fire,” she said.

She pulled up to find two teenage boys on the side of the road in a panicked state. They told her their friend, a 17-year-old, was stuck in the car, and Hendrickson could see flames as high as six feet coming out of the engine bay.

“I jumped out of my car, headed over there, opened the front passenger door and, sure enough, a teenage boy was trapped right there in the front passenger seat,” she said.

Hendrickson reported the boy had severe internal injuries and broken bones, and he was “knocked out,” or in shock.

“He couldn’t barely talk or move, and the car seat had him pinned forward,” she said.

Hendrickson moved the seat back, unleashed the seatbelt and told the boy they needed to get him out. By then, 911 had been called.

“He said, ‘I can’t move,’ but I had to get him out of the car because it was on fire, so I just reached in under his arms, wrapped my arms around his chest and just pulled him out.”

She said she definitely had an adrenaline rush, but also contributed her CrossFit exercise as a reason for being able to act swiftly.

“With my strength and my adrenaline, I just (carefully) yanked him right out of there.”

Afterward, Hendrikson said her body shook for about an hour.

“I was really emotional and pretty traumatized for a couple weeks afterwards,” she said. “As a mother, seeing teenage boys like that, so broken physically, was really challenging. I definitely have a new respect for first responders that do this all the time. It’s gotta be hard to see that all the time.”

Lieutenant Erin Nunes said that while cars almost never blow up after a crash, there was significant risk to the young man’s life, including to Hendrickson.

“Fires can spread incredibly fast in cars and he was in grave danger of being burned in the next few minutes,” she said. “The area where he was sitting was hot already from the heat and flames were getting closer to him.”

Fire Chief Joseph Rodondi presented Hendrickson with a fire chief challenge coin designed by former city manager Gary Marks.

“A lot of folks, when they see an incident, they will freeze or they will not want to get involved,” Rodondi said.

Alisha Hendrickson, at right, shakes the hand of Fire Chief Joseph Rodondi as he honors her for an heroic act.

As the fire engulfed the engine compartment and began to move into the passenger compartment, Hendrickson jumped in to help, he said, adding that she told news media she did it because she’s a mom.

After rescuing the boy, whose identity is concealed because he’s a minor, Hendrickson then went over to the other boys and comforted them, “and did what a mom should do to give them some solace,” Rodondi said.

“Her heroism, her courage, and just the good old-fashioned, ‘I’m a mom, I know what to do,’ that’s pretty special,” he said.

In other business, the board:

  • Heard an update on the new fire station on Oak Street from Rodondi. Construction and landscape is expected to be completed by the end of May. The kitchen table was put together by Battalion Chief Ken Savage and retiree firefighter Jon Davis using cedar salvaged from the former building. This fire board meeting was the first in the new facility. The district will host an open house for the community on June 15.
  • Heard from Rodondi about upcoming meetings where he will share with the community information about the upcoming levy.
  • Heard updates on legislative movements. A resolution at the house (HR 7525) would provide recognition of special districts by the government that could help districts such as LFD receive federal funding. Also “pretty much everybody” is opposed to proposed changes to federal OSHA requirements, Rodondi said. One of those changes would include making districts do fire safety analyses on abandoned buildings, which Rodondi said could be a costly expense in addition to questioning the constitutionality of going onto private property to conduct the surveys. Chief John Tacy reported on an EMS Modernization Bill and a Balance Billing Act.
  • Heard from union representatives on what they’re doing to promote the levy.
  • Heard from Michael Perkins, who reported on new volunteer recruits.