KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The south Kansas City firefighters who pulled a 3-year-old boy from a burning apartment building took a few moments to describe the crucial seconds that kept a gasping child alive.
It was a moment that gave the men of Firehouse 41 Truck 8 goose bumps, and moved veteran firefighter Bub Flathers to tears.
Flathers was the veteran firefighter who rushed into the apartment, dropped to his hands and knees and crawled toward the gasping child.
However, it was his crew of five men who were responsible for keeping him alive. He credits Benjamin Schloegel, Chris Malloy, Joe Guarino and Ben Boucher.
As individuals, they're every day men, but "as a team, we are heroes."
When firefighters arrived at Ruskin Place Apartments on 113th and Blue Ridge Thursday, the apartment building the boy and his mother live in was engulfed in flames.
A frantic mother told them her son was still inside. Flathers burst through the door, then hit the ground.
He described using his hands in a sweeping motion to feel down every hallway, inside every closet and under each bed. It was a sound that made his heart skip a beat.
"I heard a breath. A gasping breath," he remembered. "We knew the child was there but the visibility was zero. In those conditions, you physically get down on your knees on the floor and have to find this child using your hands. You absolutely could not see the child in those conditions."
Flathers remembers the moment he found the baby crouched in a bedroom. He described making a mad dash for the door.
Once outside, his crew carried the baby to the ambulance and finished knocking down the remaining flames.
Just over an hour after they left the fire scene, the men found out the 3-year-old child was alert in the hospital and playing with his toys.
Flathers, a father and grandfather himself, broke down in tears.
"Those were tears of happiness," he said. "It's an exhilarating feeling knowing you we're able to help another human being. It's very rewarding."
He added that he couldn't have done it without his loyal crew at the Kansas City Fire Department.