Tull Honored as Hometown Hero for Swift Water Rescue
While most NCAA football players can often be found lifting weights or downing powdery protein shakes, Catholic University of America sophomore John Tull discovered another way to spend his offseason.
The Pennsylvania native has worked as a volunteer firefighter for the last five years for the Middletown Fire Company in Media, Pa.
“I believe that firefighting, like football, is a brotherhood,” says the offensive lineman. “It’s just like stepping on the football field, knowing your teammate next to you is fighting for the same thing and has your back.”
While Tull has been at the scene of numerous vehicle rescues, building fires and other medical emergencies, he found himself in an unprecedented life-or-death situation on December 26, 2009. That afternoon, an SUV plummeted into the freezing waters of Ridley Creek with a mother and her 14-year-old daughter trapped inside.
“This incident was definitely the most hazardous and dramatic rescues I have ever been part of,” he said.
Tull was among the first responders to the scene. When he arrived, he saw a mother trapped in her car while her daughter clung to a tree in the raging waters 20 yards away. Thirty-two minutes after the call had been made, the team reached the teenage girl, placed her in a rescue basket, and lifted her 200 feet to safety. They then rescued the mother, who was clinging to a cell phone and crying as the water level increased in her vehicle. They were both taken to the hospital and treated for minor hypothermia, but were released later that day.
“Seeing a girl clinging for her life was shocking,” Tull said. “Composure was vital in effectively rescuing the girl and her mother, and I believe a lot of that comes from my various football experiences.
Although the offensive lineman was captain of his high school swim team, he believes that braving the cold waters had little to do with his swimming abilities:
“Swimming helped very little in this situation. It was all up to the strength and power I had gained in training for football.”
As a key member in the success of the dangerous rescue, Tull received a Township Letter of Accommodation and a County Citation for Heroism. He was also honored with an Award for Valor from the Delaware County Fireman’s Association.
“We did what we had to do with the resources we had at our disposal, and at the end of the day, everyone went home safely,” Tull notes. “You can’t ask for much more.”