During his 23-year career as an Anaheim firefighter, Dan Mosman has received his fair share of “attaboys” and kudos from members of the public he’s helped out while on the job.
Ironically, this week he’s receiving the biggest award of his career for something he did while off duty.
For his role in a fatal residential fire that hit frighteningly close to home, Mosman, a captain paramedic with Anaheim Fire & Rescue’s Station 9 in Anaheim Hills, is receiving a “Heroes With Heart” award from the Trauma Intervention Program of Orange County.
He’s among 20 emergency responders and hospital personnel being honored at the ceremony in Anaheim on Thursday for demonstrating extraordinary compassion to someone in a crisis.
“I don’t look at myself as a hero,” Mosman said Tuesday morning, a couple of hours into his 24-shift in the kitchen of Station 9.
“I’m just another piece of the puzzle — a member of the team,” Mosman said.
At any second, Mosman and his fellow crewmembers could be called out to scenes of death and destruction.
A child drowning.
A grisly traffic accident.
A raging wildfire.
At this moment, one of Mosman’s colleagues teased him about his award.
“I considered him an ordinary man until this,” Engineer Bob Markoski joked. “Now, I feel different — now, I get to drive around a bona fide hero.”
Mosman took the ribbing in stride.
“A lot of people I work with do these kinds of things all the time,” Mosman said of his actions on April 1, 2014.
That morning, Mosman had just completed a 24-hour shift when he drove to his home on Todd Avenue in Yorba Linda.
It was just after 8 a.m.
Mosman then drove his 16-year-old daughter, Mackenzie, to school and then went to Station 10 to complete some paperwork.
His wife, Mimi, an at-home hairdresser, was preparing to see some clients.
Mosman’s son, Mitchell, 20, a volunteer reserve for the fire department, was dropping off supplies to Station 10.
Just before 10 a.m., a tone went off at Station 10.
Mosman’s heart dropped when he heard what he thought was his address on Todd Avenue.
It turned out to be the two-story house across the street where a 90-year-old woman lived with her two sons.
Engine 10 responded to the address about five minutes away.
Mosman jumped into his pickup and followed.
Mosman saw smoke and called his wife.
“She was in panic mode,” Mosman said.
Mosman knew the elderly woman, Katheryn Carras, and her sons, John and Ernie, fairly well.
Ernie was away running an errand.
John ran over to the Mosman residence.
The fire in the Carras home had started in a downstairs office.
Katheryn Carras was trapped upstairs in the bedroom, screaming.
Mimi Mosman and John Carras entered the burning home to try to rescue her but soon were overcome with smoke.
“John, we cannot do this,” Mimi Mosman told John.
Both retreated outside.
The heat from the blaze had singed John Carras’ hair, and he had suffered minor burns.
Several AF&R engines soon were on the scene assisting another agency, and Markoski was among those firefighters who found Katheryn Carras on the floor between a bed and window.
They pulled her from the house, but it was too late.
She died at around 11:30 a.m. at Western Medical Center in Santa Ana.
John Carras was taken to Kaiser in Anaheim.
Mosman spent about four hours there with his neighbor, consoling the grieving son who relived, over and over, the horrible events of the morning.
“He needed support,” Mosman said. “He was grieving.”
A TIP volunteer soon arrived at the hospital. She nominated Mosman for the award he is receiving Thursday.
“It was totally unexpected,” Mosman, 48, said of the honor.
“Look,” he added. “This is the job I signed up to do: be a public servant and help whoever I can.”
He pulled a picture off a refrigerator.
In the photo, he and Markoski, along with Station 9 firefighters Gary Vaughn and Scott Semonell, are shown presenting a carrot cake to a woman who lives at a nearby residential home.
During a medical aid call several weeks ago, the woman mentioned to the firefighters that her 90th birthday was coming up.
Vaughn took a mental note of the woman’s birthday, and he and the other three firefighters surprised her with a cake on the big day.
Mosman says it’s something he tries to do on the job.
“Sometimes, you get used to seeing (bad things), but you still have to have the compassion that’s built into you,” he said.
The cause of the fire that claimed the life of Katheryn Carras never was determined, Mosman said.
He said her sons still are struggling with her death.
“I just try to be helpful when I can,” Mosman said.
Behind The Badge will report on Thursday’s TIP awards dinner. The 19 other Heroes with Heart 2014 award recipients are:
Kristin Rodriguez, Marianna Cinat, DO Memorial Heroes with Heart Award, Placentia Linda Hospital
Chief Ken Cruz, Orange County Fire Authority
Jenifer McAninch, RN, Placentia Linda Hospital
Deputy Kyle Sheek, Orange County Sheriff’s Department
Kiwi Burtt, RN, Western Medical Center
Cpl. Gregory Brintle, Brea Police Department
Officer Teri Hill, Brea Police Department
Lawayne Ponzio, RN, Hoag Hospital, Irvine
Officer Joshua Kuo, Costa Mesa Police Department
Officer Jahseam George, Orange Police Department
Deputy Coroner Brooke Beasley, Orange County Sheriff’s Department
Officer Happy Medina, Anaheim Police Department
Officer Agustina Arias, Irvine Police Department
Sgt. Chris Johnson, California Highway Patrol
Michelle Maloney, RN, Saddleback Memorial Medical Center
Jennifer Foran, RN, Children’s Hospital of Orange County
Sepi Reissmueller, RN, UCI Medical Center
Angela Fuentes, RRT, UCI Medical Center
Cpl. Jason Farris, Laguna Beach Police Department
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