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Randolph Fire Chief Dana Horne named N. H. Hero

On Jan. 2, 2009, Randolph Fire Chief Dana Horne, who is also a Captain in the Gorham Fire Department, lay belly-down under this tipped-up pickup truck, supporting the weight of driver Richard Goff of Richville, N. Y., likely saving his life. Chief Horne will receive a 2010 N. H. Hero Award at 3 p.m. on May 5 on the State House lawn from Union-Leader publisher Joe McQuaid and Citizens Bank president Cathy Schmidt. (Photo by Edith Tucker) (click for larger version)
April 28, 2010
RANDOLPH — Randolph Fire Chief Dana Horne, a resident of Gorham, has been named a New Hampshire Hero.

He will be honored at a ceremony on the State House lawn at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, May 5.

Union-Leader publisher Joseph McQuaid and Citizens Bank president Cathy Schmidt will jointly present Chief Horne with his award and those of eight other heroes, one posthumously. Gov. John Lynch will also shake his hand.

It was Randolph Life Squad member Bill Arnold of Randolph who started the ball rolling to gain recognition for Chief Horne's heroism on Jan. 2, 2009, that likely saved the life of 28-year-old Richard Goff of Richville, N.Y.

Mr. Goff drifted over the centerline on Route 2, just west of Appalachia trailhead, and collided with a tractor-trailer at 3:10 p.m.

The impact sent the pickup truck he was driving over a steep embankment on the north side of the two-lane highway, where it came to rest at the treeline, tipped up on the driver's side.

The force of the crash scattered debris across the highway for some 300 feet, and one of Mr. Goff's legs was pinned to the dashboard, pierced by a piece of steel.

Two tow rigs came from Lowe's Garage, two miles west.

Alan Lowe and Kevin Rousseau positioned one rig so its cables could stabilize the pickup, helping to ensure rescue workers' safety.

Firefighters trying to extricate Mr. Goff cut open the roof and peeled it back.

There was a terrible moment when everyone nearby realized that nothing now supported the driver, Mr. Arnold explained.

Almost instantaneously, Chief Horne dove belly-down under Mr. Goff so that he would not start falling out of the driver's compartment, further damaging his bleeding, severely injured leg.

Chief Horne lay on his stomach for two-and-a-half hours, he said in a Sunday telephone interview.

"What I did was automatic; I laid on my stomach underneath him and arched my back to keep him from falling out," Chief Horne said to this reporter shortly after the 2009 accident. "He's so lucky he didn't lose a leg — or his life." Mr. Goff's leg was twisted and broken above the knee.

Because then-49-year-old Chief Horne was face down, he never did see the face of the man whose life he helped save.

It was Mr. Goff's body heat that the kept the firefighter from being frostbitten as he lay on the cold steel of the truck's peeled-back roof that rested on the snow-covered ground.

Chief Horne's left arm became numb, and his fellow firefighters repositioned and even massaged it.

"There was no way I could switch out with someone; it just wasn't possible," he explained on Sunday. "Besides, I kept thinking it would only take another five minutes."

It was four hours from the time he was toned out until the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Air Rescue Team (DHART) lifted off Route 2. The team — an R.N. and a paramedic — treated Mr. Goff, who never lost consciousness and was also bleeding from facial injuries, with painkillers and IV fluids.

Chief Horne said that it was not as cold down where the pickup was as it was up on the highway. Then-State Police Lt. John Scarinza of Randolph said that the wind chill made it seem like it was minus 50 degrees.

At the time, now-retired Lt. Scarinza said, "It was a tremendous effort, originally of quick thinking on his part and then of sheer perseverance in being able to stay pinned under this victim for such a long period of time. Once in that position, Dana stayed there under the injured man for the entire time — at least two hours — keeping him propped up while firefighters tried to cut portions of the truck away to save the man's leg."

Since he first worked that night as the Randolph Fire Chief and then later as a Gorham Fire Department captain and, with plenty of EMTs and Life Squad members on hand, Chief Horne explained that he did not don a pair of disposable gloves.

Fortunately, however, his turnout gear protected him against any blood-borne pathogens. Blood was on two of the three layers, and when he climbed back up to Route 2 he stripped down to the first layer.

Mr. Goff's wife, Rosemary, and their two children, one a two-and-a-half-year-old toddler and the other a five- month-old baby, were not injured in the crash.

Looking back on that afternoon and evening, Chief Horne, a Berlin native who moved to Gorham in 1979, said, "That long extrication was a real learning experience for us all. I use what we learned in our twice-a-year extrication training. It was a real team effort to get the driver out, and the other guys worked very hard. I felt bad at the time that I couldn't lend them a hand."

Chief Horne, who works as a mechanic at A & A Auto Repair in Gorham, and his wife, Diane, have raised three children: 21-year-old Brett, who will graduate on May 14 from a three-year program in Information Technology from White Mountains Community College (WMCC) in Berlin; plus 18-year-old twins who both will graduate on June 11 from Gorham High — daughter Alexandria, who will go to Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., and son Logan, who will head to WMCC to earn an associate's degree in criminal justice.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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