Whether they have to sort out the messy details of a domestic issue or confront a lunatic in an effort to keep the peace, police officers are thrust into difficult situations daily. But sometimes, even with all their training, they can find themselves outmatched—and in need of a helping hand.

A San Francisco police officer learned this firsthand as she was struggling for air in a fight against an agitated, unruly suspect. The officer desperately needed help, but dozens of bystanders only idly watched the altercation… until a passerby with a surprising history stepped in.

Around 7 p.m. one evening, an unnamed female police officer was patrolling near the south side of San Francisco. Around the 4700 block of the city’s famed Mission Street, she suddenly received a call from dispatch.

Mike Koozmin / San Francisco Examiner

“One of our officers responded to the report of a woman jumping up and down on cars, denting them, vandalizing them,” Police Sergeant Eli Turner later told ABC-7 News. By herself, the officer headed toward the disturbance.

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When she arrived at the scene, the officer confronted the agitated woman. Using her de-escalation training, she tried to diffuse the tense situation. She had to calm down a much larger, much stronger woman. And it worked. For a minute, at least…

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With the disturbed woman seemingly under control, the police officer placed her under arrest. Calm as she may have been in the moment, she’d still done some serious damage and she’d broken the law—she had to face the consequences. The suspect wasn’t happy.

Before the officer could place her in handcuffs, the suspect grew unruly and agitated. She shouted, but the officer persisted in her arrest efforts. That was when the situation became dangerously violent…

Without warning, the woman lunged at the officer. At one point, she pinned the officer against a wall and slammed her head into it. The officer was no match for the woman; it appeared her fight training was failing her…

Meanwhile, bystanders had gathered at the scene to watch. No one lifted a finger to help the officer who, according to reports, started screaming, “Help me! Help me!” Clearly, she was outmatched—and in serious trouble.

John Green / San Mateo County Times

As the officer struggled to break free from the woman who was clearly overpowering her, a man was crossing the street nearby. He saw the fight and the crowd surrounding it, and he wandered closer to take a look.

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“The person had the officer kind of in a chokehold,” the man, Ryan Raso, told ABC-7. He saw the suspect was slamming the officer’s head into the wall. But then the assailant did something truly terrifying—and enough was enough.

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While the officer cried out for help and bystanders did nothing, the suspect suddenly reached for the officer’s gun. Was she really so crazed that she would attempt to shoot the officer to escape? Ryan didn’t want to find out.

Before the assailant could grab the gun, Ryan intervened, wrestling her to the ground and breaking the headphones he was wearing in the process. He held the woman down until other officers arrived. He’d saved the day! But he didn’t swell with pride…

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He was baffled as to why he was the only one to step in and save the officer. “A law enforcement officer is saying, ‘Help me, help me,'” he said later in disbelief. Why did no one else intervene? Thankfully, this was not lost on the officer’s colleagues…

The officer’s fellow cops wanted to show their appreciation for what he’d done. But after Ryan saved the officer, he disappeared. Authorities couldn’t find the 35-year-old hero, so they embarked on a rather friendly manhunt, combing the city to find the man—not so they could arrest him, but to thank him.

Four days later, authorities at Ingleside Station finally located Ryan (though where they found him was unclear). The more they spoke with him, the more they understood how amazing his intervention was…

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Until recently, Ryan had been living in Florida, where he’d accumulated a substantial criminal history that included over a dozen arrests—including charges of resisting an officer! Once he arrived in San Francisco, he’d fallen on hard times.

“He has been homeless,” Sergeant Eli Turner told ABC-7. “He’s had a rough time in recent months. We wanted to reach out to him and let him know he has friends.” So, despite his run-ins with the law, the officers gave him something nice…

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So, what did they do to show their appreciation? They chipped in to buy him new headphones! They also offered to set him up in a shelter if he wanted to. It was clear the officers wanted to help. That was when they learned something else about Ryan…

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Ryan’s father had actually been a New York City police officer. The hero of the day admitted that his old man would’ve likely been very proud of his intervention. Still, Ryan didn’t do it for the glory…

“An officer was being beaten up, a human,” Ryan said. “So I just did what’s right, you know.” And it was a good thing he did. The bystander effect is a powerful force of persuasion; who knows how long it would’ve taken for someone else to intervene?

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Hearing about Ryan Raso’s act of heroism makes us think if it weren’t for him this would have been a very different story! When a crisis is at hand we all hope that someone like Raso is nearby, especially if the situation is more severe than a single offender.

2018 has proven to be one of the most deadly years in California’s history because of the devastating wildfires that have been sweeping the sunshine state. They are one of the most dangerous natural disasters and destroy everything in their path.

Sadly, the death toll keeps rising and the list of people missing is getting longer. Since the start of 2018, 7,579 fires have broken out across the state and over 1.6 million acres of the landscape have been scorched. 

On November 8, 2018, a fire broke out, in Butte County located in Northern California. It burned for over a week and has been named the most deadly wildfire in California history.

The origin of the fire is still unknown and under investigation, but the priority right now is containing the fire and rescuing and identifying as many people as humanly possible. That’s where the California Hotshots come in.

The California Hotshots stand at the front lines when a wildfire breaks out. They are a highly trained group of people who work tirelessly to contain wildfires. But they aren’t the only ones fighting wildfires…

One man took it upon himself to become an honorary hotshot. Allyn Pierce is an ICU manager and nurse at Adventist Health in Paradise, California. On a daily basis, Allyn works with the critically ill who enter the hospital.

When word got out that the fire was spreading quickly and there wasn’t much time left., Allyn helped initiate a swift evacuation of the ICU patients and staff at Adventist Health.

Following the evacuation, Allyn jumped in his Toyota Tundra truck and started driving to safety. The area was hectic with people frantically trying to escape the flames. Allyn didn’t get far before he hit a gridlock.

The traffic was at a complete standstill and Allyn could see the fire moving closer. Allyn could see that the flames were consuming the cars surrounding him. He started to realize that he wasn’t going to make it out of there alive.

In an effort to protect himself for as long as he could, he held his coat up to the window as he could feel the intense heat against the glass. He then put the song “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel on to try and calm himself. 

At that moment, Allyn knew that his final moments were upon him. He took out his phone and began recording a goodbye message to his family saying, “Just in case this doesn’t work out, I want you to know I really tried to make it out.” 

Then by some act of God, a bulldozer came out of nowhere and pushed the burning truck next to him out of the way. Allyn was granted the little bit of room he needed to maneuver out of the way. He put the car in drive…

Instead of leaving the danger zone and driving home to safety, he made a stunning decision. He turned around and drove back to the center of Paradise, California in his Tundra, already scorched by the fire.

When Allyn returned to his hospital and it was absolute chaos. Like out of a scene in a movie, Allyn saw injured people rushing to the hospital doors desperately seeking medical attention.

Allyn recalled, “Now all of us are like, ‘Oh, this is what we do.’ We’re terrible at burning to death, but we’re amazing at taking care of people.” He knew that he was where he needed to be and that if anyone could help these poor people, it was him.

The remaining emergency professionals started to form a makeshift medical center in the parking lot. People started breaking into the medical center to grab any supplies that they possibly could.

They started to treat about two dozen patients and more followed. They worked as fast as they could as the flames grew in the distance. In seemingly no time at all, the hospital was consumed by the wildfire.

The brave medical staff that stayed behind quickly rounded up all of the injured and ran to the hospital’s helipad 100 yards away. Thankfully, authorities were in the area and were working to clear a path for the victims.

They were able to get a caravan running in time to drive everyone to safety. Allyn wanted to stress that the heroism that day was a group effort. He stated, “This is what we do. Any nurse, any healthcare worker, any cop, they were there and they all did their jobs.”

The workers, including Allyn, lost everything to the fire but they still had their lives. No one can imagine the pure devastation California and its residents suffer during wildfires, but when there is darkness, there is also light.

Toyota heard about Allyn and the staff’s heroic actions and wanted to do something to bring some good out of a tragic series of events.

Toyota tweeted, “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 California wildfires flash on and off our news screen every so often, but they continually burn and claim victims every day. Please consider donating to the American Red Cross and the California Community Foundation’s Wildfire Relief Fund. Every bit helps.