Special Commendation: Firefighter/Paramedic Joaquin Lapastora & Firefighter James Eberle

June 30, 2018

False alarms are part of a daily routine for companies of the Los Angeles City Fire Department. Most pass without consequence and are soon just distant memories jotted down in a station’s journal. However, on July 13, 2017, E-36 responded on what started out as such but would quickly turn into an incident they would not soon forget.

FF James Eberle

FF/PM Joaquin Lapastora

Finishing up an investigation on yet another false alarm at an apartment complex in San Pedro, the members of Engine 36 were preparing to exit the building. As they did, Captain Richard Diaz noticed a middle-aged woman attempting to climb over the railing of a third-floor balcony in an adjacent apartment complex, presumably with the intent of jumping off. Captain Diaz immediately sent Firefighter/PM Joaquin Lapastora and Firefighter James Eberle to the woman’s apartment in hopes of preventing her from jumping. Simultaneously, Captain Diaz witnessed two civilians as they appeared on the same balcony in an attempt to help the woman—who by this time was on the opposite side of the railing. From his vantage point, he could see them pleading with her to stop, unfortunately, without success.

Lapastora and Eberle moved as fast as humanly possible. Entering the building, they found the woman’s apartment just in time. Bursting inside, they raced over to the balcony just as the woman let go of the railing and began to fall. Quickly reaching out for her, the two firefighters were able to catch her by the arms and legs and stop her downward descent to the ground below. They then pulled her back over the railing and onto the floor of the apartment. Paramedics from RA-36 assessed her injuries, finding only minor scratches and abrasions from the incident.

For recognizing the direness of the situation and moving with extreme urgency, Firefighter Eberle and Firefighter/PM Lapastora demonstrated exemplary action at extreme risk to their own personal safety. For this, the Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation honored the two firefighters with a Special Commendation.

Comments are closed.

Back to Top