Southey RCMP Officers Save Non-Responsive Female from Smoke-Filled House

Southey, Saskatchewan – In late November, 2022, shortly before 5:00 in the morning, two Southey RCMP officers were at a call for service when someone made a spontaneous comment to check on the wellbeing of a female at another residence – also in their detachment area.

Constables Brandyn McCartney and Jacob Jungheim arrived at this female’s residence and noted several lights were on inside. They approached the residence and knocked on the door.

“Initially what was strange when we went to the residence was an “off” smell, like burnt toast,” recalls Cst. McCartney, “but there was nothing emitting from the residence that would indicate a full-on blaze. Upon doing a walk around the residence to see if anyone was inside, we noticed an odd haze or fog. At first it seemed like dirty windows, but upon a closer look we realized it was a house full of floor-to-ceiling smoke.”

Two blackened, burnt items in a microwave
Two blackened, burnt items in a microwave

Cst. McCartney notes how communication with your partner is key, no matter what type of call you are responding to. “In this instance, likely if you’re picking up on something, your partner is too, so it’s important to communicate these things. I smelled the burning, but didn’t think much of it until I spoke to Jacob about it and he also smelled it. Once we both noticed the smoke, we communicated a game plan as to who was checking what door to gain access.”

The doors and windows were locked

Given the smoke and concern for the safety of any people inside, officers knew they had to enter the residence – but the doors and windows were locked.

Cst. Jungheim couldn’t believe it when he located keys outside the smoke-filled residence. “I first banged on the doors and windows trying to get someone to answer, but I did not hear anyone inside. I then tried the set of keys in the back door, but the keys did not match up with the lock. I then went around to the front and tried to unlock the front door with success.”

“…hidden under a layer of blankets”

The officers called out several times and again, no one answered. Still concerned about potential people inside, Cst. McCartney entered first. He did a search of the smoke-filled home and located an unresponsive female in a bedroom. “I didn’t see her at first,” he remembers. “The female was hidden under a layer of blankets that obscured any human shape. I grabbed the blankets quickly and felt a leg, so I threw the blanket off and found her laying there. My initial thought at this point was that she was deceased, as I could barely breathe and I had only been in the residence for a moment. I shook her and was able to get a response.”

“When I heard Cst. McCartney say there was someone inside the house, that’s when I rushed in without hesitation to try to extract her. My immediate reaction was to get them out as soon as possible. I could see someone laying on the bed with a blanket over them,” says Cst. Jungheim. “I just knew I had to get her out of the smoke that was in the house – it was my main priority at that moment.”

The officers carried the confused woman outside. She was unaware her house was full of smoke. As she was not dressed for the weather, she was taken to a nearby residence for warmth, where she was assessed by emergency medical services. Thankfully, she was okay.

Cst. Jungheim stayed on scene as the fire department arrived. With the doors open, the smoke had dissipated and there was no fire. It took some time to discover the source of the smoke. After searches were completed, firefighters located severely burnt food inside a microwave. Firefighters confirmed the residence was now safe.

“This was the first call of this nature I’ve been to in my almost four years with the RCMP, but I’ve been to a number of calls now that, as a result of our actions, have definitely prevented death. It’s something that becomes fairly routine…then you get back to your next task,” says Cst. McCartney.

“This call was an early morning (call for service) and I had worked all night, but the people that need our help deserve 100% of my effort when I show up to a call, regardless of what time I started or how tired I am,” says Cst. Jungheim.

Southey RCMP

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