One man, His Tundra, and a Community of Brave Fighters
Camp Fire’s Heroes
As manager of Oak Lawn Toyota’s Instagram account, I follow numerous Toyota truck fan accounts. These fan accounts are not for the casual Toyota truck driver, they’re for hardcore enthusiasts who devote their spare time to working on their beloved Toyota truck.
On Saturday, while scrolling through Oak Lawn Toyota’s Instagram feed, I came across a photo of a badly burnt truck. While that should have gotten my immediate attention, I continued scrolling until I noticed it again, and again, and again–a picture “re-grammed” multiple times over.
I decided to share the image of the burnt truck on Facebook along with the brief caption attached to it. It was a sobering image of the real damage done by the Camp Fire (in Butte County Northern California) and a brief look at the human toll a natural disaster can take on our fellow Americans.
Since posting that photo on Saturday, multiple outlets picked up this story and I think it’s important you get to know the person who drives that burnt Tundra. The owner of the truck is Allyn Pierce, an ICU nurse at Adventist Health in Paradise, CA. Last Thursday, while flames were engulfing Paradise and surrounding areas, Nurse Allyn hopped into his Toyota Tundra with hospital patients and evacuated them to safety. Not only did he do this once, but he turned around and did it again. Nurse Pierce’s selflessness saved lives and for that, he’s a hero. Toyota has recognized his bravery and will be giving him a new truck to replace his burnt Tundra.
I’m attaching New York Times reporter Jack Nicas’ tweets below for the entire account of the Paradise Hospital heroes and for the astonishing photos that tell their story.
Here's the crazy story of just one of the many heroes in Paradise, the town destroyed by California's deadliest fire ever. His name is Allyn Pierce, and he's the badass nurse who drove this truck through the flames. pic.twitter.com/xAL7zRf34H— Jack Nicas (@jacknicas) November 13, 2018
Allyn manages the ICU at Paradise's hospital, Adventist Health, and helped spark the quick evacuation of patients Thursday morning as the #CampFire swept in. Then he hopped in his truck with two colleagues and headed for safety.— Jack Nicas (@jacknicas) November 13, 2018
Like many residents in Paradise, they quickly hit gridlock. But unfortunately for them, they were stuck in the middle of the fire. Flames licked at the side of his truck, and as Allyn watched other cars catch fire, he thought his was next. Here was his view. pic.twitter.com/2fACEWn4tu— Jack Nicas (@jacknicas) November 13, 2018
Allyn held his coat against the window – a futile guard from the intense heat – and put on Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” to calm himself. He recorded a goodbye message to his family: “Just in case this doesn’t work out, I want you to know I really tried to make it out."— Jack Nicas (@jacknicas) November 13, 2018
Suddenly a bulldozer appeared & knocked a burning truck next to him out of the way. There was some room to maneuver. But instead of going forward toward safety, he turned around & drove back into the heart of Paradise. Here's the aftermath of his Tacoma. (The lights still work.) pic.twitter.com/LLUU1fDfYv— Jack Nicas (@jacknicas) November 13, 2018
Allyn ended up back at the hospital and quickly realized injured Paradise residents were also there, looking for medical help. “Now all of us are like, ‘Oh, this is what we do,’” he recalled. “We're terrible at burning to death, but we're amazing at taking care of people.”— Jack Nicas (@jacknicas) November 13, 2018
Doctors, nurses, paramedics & police started a triage center in the hospital parking lot. They broke into the hospital for gurneys, oxygen tanks & other gear & quickly went to work, treating about two dozen people while the fire raged around them. Photo: Noah Berger/AP. pic.twitter.com/SOOZidkfOF— Jack Nicas (@jacknicas) November 13, 2018
Then the hospital caught fire. The team quickly relocated the patients 100 yards away to the hospital’s helipad. Eventually authorities cleared a path to safety, so they loaded up the victims & drove out in a caravan. Everyone made it out safely.— Jack Nicas (@jacknicas) November 13, 2018
Photo: Jim Wilson/NYT @jwnyt pic.twitter.com/9aaX6c7HSc
Allyn stressed the triage was a massive group effort — and that they weren't heroes. “This is what we do,” he said. “Any nurse, any healthcare worker, any cop, they were there and they all did their jobs.”— Jack Nicas (@jacknicas) November 13, 2018
Allyn's Instagram: https://t.co/GW2L2jS97w