Fire truck driving with lights on

An Extra Block
Story 122

By Kirsten Cutler

An extra block on Jacob Olvera’s commute home transformed an ordinary day. 

Leaving work later than usual that day, Olvera – who works in human resources at Adventist Health Lodi Memorial – noticed a plume of black smoke coming from a residential street near the hospital. He decided to drive in that direction. When he arrived at the house, an eerie scene unfolded in front of him. 

House fire

“There were a couple of kids out in the yard crying and screaming,” Jacob remembers. “Another vehicle was driving from the opposite direction and stopped. Two young ladies got out, and so I parked my car.” 

As Jacob called 911 and began relaying his location to the dispatcher, the oldest child at the residence beckoned for his attention from the front door. As Jacob approached the door, he noticed one of the young women from the other car was inside attempting to remove an elderly woman from the home. Thick, black smoke hung low over the floor, and it was extremely difficult to see.  

“She was moving slowly and having a hard time breathing,” Jacob recalls. “I was talking to her in Spanish and English. I said, ‘Come on. You have to come down the steps. You have to come out.’”  

He and the other bystander assisted her down the stairs as quickly as they could. They set her up on her walker and helped her across the street to safety. 

“I was on the phone with the [dispatcher] still,” he says. “Nobody else was in the house, and I looked over the fence, and I could see where the fire started in the back of the house.” 

After ensuring there were no other people in the home, Jacob hung up with the dispatcher. Within minutes, the fire department arrived. Not wanting to be a hindrance, Jacob went on his way. 

Jacob Olvera
Jacob Olvera

For his courageous and clear-headed action, Jacob received the "Everyday Heroes" award from Adventist Health Lodi Memorial, which is awarded quarterly to employees for going above and beyond the call of daily work and instilling a sense of pride in their team.

“Jacob insists that anyone in his situation would have done the same thing he did, but this act of service to perfect strangers is an inspiration,” says Nicole Krahmer, Jacob’s director. 

It was the closest Jacob had ever been to danger of that kind, and he’s left feeling both rattled and grateful. 

“It could have been worse,” Jacob shares. “Something in my heart just told me, ‘Go down that street. Just go see.’” 

The experience has also left him reflecting on what influenced his decision to drive an extra block that day. 

“People say it's your intuition, your consciousness,” he says, “I am a big believer in the Holy Spirit drawing you to do something.”