Dustin Luebke just finished a 24-hour shift at the fire station when he dropped his three daughters off for school. Little did Luebke know that his work was far from over.


The 33-year-old father and husband got back home but at 10:53 a.m., he got the message. He was being requested to come back to work for a collapsed home in the city of Sioux Falls.


Luebke was called on because of his extensive urban search and rescue training. Although he had spent his last 10 years training for these very incidents, Luebke knew nothing truly prepares someone for a horrific incident like this.

The firefighter arrived just short of noon and described the scene as “Surreal.” He was just one of the several first responders working to free the two people trapped. Thanks to Emily Fodness being able to get to her phone, rescuers were able to find a general location.


She knew right where she was in her room … she really kept her cool, and that helped us out a lot in our efforts to find her,” Luebke said. As Emily continued talking to rescuers on her phone, they were able to use what she said to find her in the midst of all the rubble.


Luebke recounted the moment they crossed over her without even hearing her. “We were only, at one point, 5 to 6 feet above where she was, and we couldn’t hear her yelling.” However, after a piece of rubble was removed they saw black hair.

When they asked her what color hair she had (over the phone), she said, “blonde.” When they continued to dig, they realized they found Emily’s dog, Nova. But directly underneath Nova was a lone hand sticking out from the debris.


“I grabbed onto her hand, and I said, ‘Emily, I’ve got your hand. I’ve got your hand. We’ve got you now. We’re not going to let go. We’re coming to get you,’” Luebke said in the interview. The firefighter just laid in the rubble for the next half hour and held her hand. As workers began to cut through debris, he just continued to speak peace to her.

Surprisingly enough, Emily was really calm throughout the entire ordeal. Finally, at around 1:30 p.m., she was free from the rubble. As she was carried down the debris, the crowd exploded in cheers. But for Luebke, that reward of finding a person had to be cut short so they could keep searching.

“You go from … Excited to right back into work mode,” Luebke said. He continued working until 6 p.m. when rescuers pulled the body of Ethan McMahon from the rubble. He then continued to eight and came back the next day (Saturday) for another 24-hour shift on.

This hero didn’t even know a picture of him was going viral, all he knew was he had to save a girl and that he wasn’t going to let go.


Please SHARE this story of the courageous men who saved this girl’s life. We also want to thank the following first responders who helped rescue Emily:

Rocky Foster, Jeremy Hill, Tim Hoekman, Luke Langenfeld, Dustin Luebke, Bo Mortenson, Tony Olson, Michael Olson, Nathan Strasser, and Ben Tracy.

Article via Argusleader.com