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Three crew members working on NBC’s popular drama Chicago Med averted a tragedy earlier this autumn when they saved two women from a burning building.
The crew were setting up a new filming location in Chicago on October 20 when they noticed smoke emanating from a nearby apartment building, according to People.
Thanks to the assistance of retired Chicago fire captain Ed Freemon, 80, they were able to carry the two elderly women from the burning building.
Life savers: Three crew members on NBC’s hit series Chicago Med were able to rescue two women (pictured) after they were trapped in a burning apartment building near the set in Chicago
On Wednesday, the Twitter account for Wolf Entertainment, Chicago Med’s production company, shared a photo of two of the heroes on set with the women they had carried out.
‘During production on a recent episode of #ChicagoMed, three members of our crew turned into real-life heroes, saving two people from a burning house,’ the account wrote.
A post on Wolf Entertainment‘s website detailing the life-or-death ordeal noted that the crew members had been in the city at work on episode 708, titled Just As A Snake Sheds Its Skin, which aired on NBC on November 10.
The series is part of NBC’s family of Chicago shows, including Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D., all three of which have proven to be reliable ratings generators for the network.
While setting up for more shooting, Freemon reportedly smelled smoke in the air.
The retired fire fighter — who now works on the show’s transportation team — and two other crew members, Pauli Bianco and Chris Sammarco, began looking around the area for the source of the smoke.
They spotted a nearby apartment building with thick smoke pouring out of its backside.
Smoke signals: Retired Chicago fire captain Ed Freemon, 80, noticed smoke in the air and discovered a building on fire nearby while the crew was setting up for a shot; Steven Weber seen on Chicago Med
Freemon checked with people in the area if any children were inside, but luckily he still charged in despite not getting a definitive answer, as two women were trapped inside the blaze and unable to free themselves in time.
‘This 80-year-old guy started going up the stars,’ Bianco said of Freemon. ‘I can’t let him go by himself.’
Freemon noted how thick the smoke was inside the building and added that they didn’t have any oxygen tanks that would allow them to more safely proceed through the fumes.
‘Shen we hit the third floor, nobody could see anything with the black smoke,’ he said, before complimenting his comrades for sticking with him despite the lack of safety equipment.
‘I’ve been in some spots where guys bailed out — in the old days when we didn’t have masks. You separated the men from the boys.’
Dire: Freemon, Pauli Bianco and Chris Sammarco entered the building and found the two women in a top floor apartment. One was disabled and neither could escape on their own; still from Chicago Med
Bianco described hearing a woman crying out for help, which reminded him of something that might have happened on his own series, or its sister series Chicago Fire.
Inside the building they found a woman that he judged to be in her mid-60s standing in the doorway of a top-floor unit.
She was reportedly a friend from church of the 92-year-old woman who lived in the apartment, who wasn’t able to call for help and required a wheelchair to get around.
Freemon’s experience with fires told him they had only a few minutes at most to get the women out of the building before the whole area would be engulfed.
‘When my face started to burn from the heat, I knew the fire was coming right behind us,’ he said.
In the nick of time: The men carried one 92-year-old woman and escorted the other out just as flames burst into the hallway; Kristin Hager seen on Chicago Med
The two younger crew members helped carry the older woman and her wheelchair out of the building, while Freemon led her friend down the stairs.
‘Both people would’ve been dead, there’s no doubt about it,’ he said. ‘They were too old, they couldn’t make it down the stairs.’
The men checked another apartment to see if anyone else was left, but they had to cut a quick exit after the flames swelled into the hallway, though Bianco didn’t see it, as he was focused on the exit ahead of him.
‘If I could’ve seen it, I would’ve held my breath. I saw the eyes of this older woman and I thought, “We’re either both going or both staying,”‘ he recounted, adding that he prayed that he wouldn’t drop the woman.
As the men exited, another crew member held open the building door to illuminate the way out, as the building had lost power.
Fire fighters were arriving as they exited, and Freemon was able to give them some tips on entering safely since he had just come from there.
Guardian angels: ‘Both people would’ve been dead, there’s no doubt about it,’ Freemon said. ‘They were too old, they couldn’t make it down the stairs’; S. Epatha Merkerson seen on Chicago Med
‘We almost died on the third floor. I know that for a fact,’ he said.
Bianco got emotional as he remembered the ‘taste and smell’ of the fire, which he described as ‘mesmerizing.’
‘The right people were there at the right time. Somebody put us there. Something put us there,’ he said.
Chicago Med is currently on hiatus for the holidays, but it will return on January 5.