Allyn Pierce lives in Paradise, California. Pierce is a nurse and intensive care unit manager at his local hospital so he helps others daily and is likely a hero to some. But five days ago, his bravery and astonishing heroics helped to save a hospital full of patients.
Pierce drove through fire, right through the fire with flames surrounding him burning his truck. He recorded a goodbye video for his family as he was sure he’d not make it. But he did and managed to go back to the hospital and again, save people’s lives.
As reported by The New York Times, and told too in series of tweets by Times journalist Jack Nicas, and through Pierce’s Instagram story, this is the life-affirming tale of real heroism in the face of what felt a certain death.
Here's the crazy story of just one of the many heroes in Paradise, the town destroyed by California's deadliest fire ever. His name is Allyn Pierce, and he's the badass nurse who drove this truck through the flames. pic.twitter.com/xAL7zRf34H
— Jack Nicas (@jacknicas) November 13, 2018
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Pierce Runs the ICU at Adventist Health. Before the Camp Fire Overtook Paradise, He & Staff Evacuated Patients. Then he Drove Away to Safety. Or so he Thought
After the evacuation of the hospital, Pierce and two co-workers got in his truck to drive away from the fire and to safety. Like many others. But soon found themselves inside fire. “Flames licked at the side of his truck, and as Allyn watched other cars catch fire, he thought his was next.”
Nicas reported that Pierce “held his coat against the window – a futile guard from the intense heat – and put on Peter Gabriel’s ‘In Your Eyes’ to calm himself. He recorded a goodbye message to his family: ‘Just in case this doesn’t work out, I want you to know I really tried to make it out.’”
2. Through the Flames & Smoke & Ash, a Bulldozer Appears to Clear a Path to Safety
“Suddenly a bulldozer appeared & knocked a burning truck next to him out of the way. There was some room to maneuver. But instead of going forward toward safety, he turned around & drove back into the heart of Paradise…” Nicas reported.
Pierce shared images of his truck, a Toyota Tundra, which sustained damage but kept going. He believes the truck saved his and his colleagues’ lives.
“Here’s my @toyotausa commercial. This truck literally saved my life today. My little town of Paradise was literally burning down around me and @the_pandra got me to safety where I could help others…twice. #campfire #perfectmarshmellow #meltedplastics #buttecountyfire #sema2019 thanks to the fire fighters, law enforcement and my fellow healthcare workers for the work we all did getting the hospital evacuated and our patients to safety.”
3. Pierce, Having Survived Through a Wall of Fire, Ends up Back at the Hospital Where Injured Residents Had Flocked
The road out of the fire led him back to his hospital where some Paradise residents had gone seeking help.
“Now all of us are like, ‘Oh, this is what we do,’” Nicas reported Pierce as saying. “We’re terrible at burning to death, but we’re amazing at taking care of people.”
Nicas reported that physicians, nurses, EMTs and police set up a triage in the parking lot of Adventist Health. “They broke into the hospital for gurneys, oxygen tanks & other gear & quickly went to work, treating about two dozen people while the fire raged around them.”
Soon, the hospital was ablaze.
“The team quickly relocated the patients 100 yards away to the hospital’s helipad. Eventually authorities cleared a path to safety, so they loaded up the victims & drove out in a caravan. Everyone made it out safely.”
Nicas reported Pierce emphasized the rescue was a “massive group effort — and that they weren’t heroes.”
“This is what we do,” Nicas quoted Pierce. “Any nurse, any healthcare worker, any cop, they were there and they all did their jobs.”
4. Pierce Boasted His Beloved Toyota Dubbed ‘The Pandra’ Was the Real Hero. Toyota Responded
People from around the world commented on Pierce’s Instagram, many saying they were now buying a Toyota. But Toyota USA, sans brouhaha or self-promotion, quietly jumped on the thread and told Pierce he’d be getting a new truck.
“We are humbled you’d risk your life and Toyota Tundra to drive people to safety. Don’t worry about your truck, we’re honored to get you a new one!”
The comments on Pierce’s Instagram devoted to his truck praised the nurse for his bravery and Toyota for dong the right thing without fanfare.
“Toyota, such a standup move to be so kind and generous to somebody going through the worst week of his life. So impressive that you reached out to this gentleman & are not posting the story on your own socials (yet). Very classy move to do this for the right reasons and not using it as a manipulative marketing ploy. Bravo.”
“Absolutely amazing all together, kudos to the amazing people at @toyotausa for extending help and to all the other awesome people doing what they can. Nice to see there’s still good in this world. My heart truly goes out to you and those affected by this tragedy. May god be with you all in these tough times. And to all the people who posted trying to get a free hand out in here…. you should be ashamed of yourselves. Many risked their lives during this inferno and instead of posting positive vibes and kind words, you’re trying to get attention for a freebie. @the_pandra my hats off to you god bless.”
5. Piece & His Family Lost Everything. A GoFundMe Was Created to Help the Family
Pierce is a humble guy. He admitted how hard it was for him to ask for help. Not uncommon in people who are accustomed to giving.
“I struggled posting this, but with my house gone and my hospital… I don’t know where my job sits. I’m gonna swallow my pride and post this GoFundMe that a kind person in Chico set up for us. This is the only legit GoFundMe that is set up for us. Separately, there is a Plum Fund that has been set up by friends, “Pierce Family Fire Fund.” This is only for those that want to donate. We will be fine, it will all work out, because if has to.”
The GoFundMe had a goal of $15,000. At the time this post was published, it had reached more than $22,000.
“Help this hero rebuild. His family lost their home in the Paradise CA fires,” the GoFundMe reads. “I saw this truck at our hospital this morning, then found his post on his IG @the_pandra shuttled patients and co-workers TWICE from the crazy #campfire in paradise CA. What an amazing story! YES those are burn marks on the truck and melted head/tail lights, the wheel wells are gone. Toyota USA this beats the pants off of any other commercial for any truck. Just his picture right here. This guy whoever he is, is a true #hero”