Chandler firefighters save woman after tub fall, build her a walk-in shower

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'They’re more than happy to use those skills,' the department spokesman said. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) 'They’re more than happy to use those skills,' the department spokesman said. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Courtesy: Chandler Fire Department) (Courtesy: Chandler Fire Department)
What started with a 911 call after Wanda Bales fell while getting out of the tub turned into a construction project. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) What started with a 911 call after Wanda Bales fell while getting out of the tub turned into a construction project. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
'We're very grateful,' Bales said of the firefighters and everything they have done for her and her husband. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) 'We're very grateful,' Bales said of the firefighters and everything they have done for her and her husband. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
'We do have individuals in our department that have skills that can aid our community,' a spokesman for the Chandler Fire, Health & Medical Department said. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) 'We do have individuals in our department that have skills that can aid our community,' a spokesman for the Chandler Fire, Health & Medical Department said. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
CHANDLER, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

When a Chandler woman fell getting out of her bathtub recently, the Chandler Fire, Health & Medical Department not only came to her rescue, they went the extra mile to make sure it would not happen again.

Wanda Bales has had some medical issues that sapped her strength.

"I was extremely weak to where it was hard to even stand up," she explained, saying it started after attending an event where it was quite cold.

A couple of days later, although she still felt poorly, she decided she really wanted a bath.

"When I tried to get out, even with my husband’s help, I fell," she explained.

The couple called 911 and a team of Chandler firefighters responded.

"I was amazed how quickly they were able to get me up, out of the tub," Bales said.

Battalion Chief Blas Minor, a spokesman for the Chandler Fire, Health & Medical Department, described the call as “just a simple lift-assist."

But it turned into more than that. A lot more.

"Before [the crew] left the scene, they kind of realized that there was a little bit more to the issue than just a simple fall," Minor explained.

They thought it was likely – even probable – that the tub would continue to be a problem for Bales and feared that she could wind up seriously injured.

Although the 911 call request for service was technically completed, the firefighters were far from finished. They decided they needed to do something to keep Bales safe.

"Here’s an opportunity for us to make a difference in somebody’s life [in a proactive way]," Minor said.

"They told us that they have a fund that they all donate to to help people that are in need," Bales said.

That fund is part of Chandler Firefighter Charities, a nonprofit group founded in 1994 by some firefighters "who recognized that our citizens frequently need services beyond fire suppression and emergency medical care." 

Bales and her husband certainly did.

"They offered to have some people come out, take out our old tub and put in a walk-in shower so that I won’t fall," Bales said.

That’s exactly what some Chandler firefighters with backgrounds in construction did.

"We do have resources," Minor explained. "We do have individuals in our department that have skills that can aid our community. … We want to take advantage of those skills; they’re more than happy to use those skills."

The captain and crew that helped Bales when she fell got the ball rolling and then with a little help from Tanner Materials and Lowe’s, the guys got to work.

"I’m ecstatic," Bales said. "I really appreciate them doing this."

The couple had considered putting in a walk-in shower, but they didn’t think they could make it happen for at least six months, possibly a year.

It’s no longer a concern.

"It’s going to make my life a lot better," Bales said. "I don’t have to worry about falling anymore."

"Anytime we can go out and make somebody’s day better, I think as a department, that’s what we strive for," Minor said. "We always want to be about in the community and helping any way we can."

Helping people is a basic tenet of the Chandler Fire, Health & Medical Department; it’s just what they do.

Here’s an opportunity for us to make a difference in somebody’s life.

"We have that mentality that we want to help people whether it’s an emergency medical call, if it’s someone’s house that’s on fire or someone needs a tub replaced," Minor said. “Fortunately for us, we were able to partner with some businesses in the community that wanted to help out this individual, as well.

"It just seems like a small blip on the radar if you really look at it," he continued. "But it’s going to mean a great deal to this family, this husband and wife."

It’s definitely more than a small blip for the couple.

"We’re very grateful," Bales said.

Chandler Firefighters Charities, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, was set up specifically to help people like Bales and her husband after the emergency has passed.

"This could be as simple as handing them a bottle of water or getting them a place to stay because they had a fire in their house and have no where [sic] to go," reads the organization's Facebook page. "In the past, crew members would empty their own pockets to assist the families on the spot.

"We are fortunate now to have funds available to more and more citizens, as well as assisting with community programs, special projects, and funding a CPR program for the community." 

While most of those funds come from the firefighters, the public can make contributions. For more information or to make a donation, call 480-782-2120 or send a check to Chandler Firefighter Charities, Chandler Fire, Health & Medical Department, Mail Stop 801, P.O. Box 4008, Chandler, AZ 85233-3008

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