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Wenchuan: From survivor to savior

Updated: 2013-05-09 14:37
(China Daily)

Jiang Yuhang's survival of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake was a miracle. When he was finally rescued, he had been trapped under the rubble of a six-story building in Yingxiu township at the quake's epicenter for 124 hours. He could smell the bodies of his colleagues nearby.

Jiang, a native of Guizhou province, was then a new intern at the Yingxiu highway administration, after graduating from a college in Chengdu, Sichuan's capital.

Five years later, he still clearly remembers getting glimpses of rescuers' orange uniforms through the cracks in the debris that separated him from safety.

Wenchuan: From survivor to savior

Jiang Yuhang was trapped for 124 hours after the earthquake. [Photo by Jiang Hongjing/For China Daily]

Wenchuan: From survivor to savior

Now he's a firefighter in Kunming Fire Command School. [Photo by Wang Hui/For China Daily]

For him, they signaled "new hope", a second chance at life the moment he was freed, he decided to become the hope-giver, not just for the quake rescue efforts, but for the rest of his life. Six months later, he joined the Shanghai Firefighter Brigade rescue team that had saved him.

After five months of intense training, Jiang became a firefighter determined to "repay the debt" and "continue the legacy of saving people's lives".

Sitting in the classroom of Kunming Fire Command School, four years later, the 24-year-old says he has never regretted his choice.

"I had never considered joining the army or becoming a firefighter," Jiang says. "But the moment I was saved by the firefighters, I was eager to become one of them."

That decision, though made on the spur of moment, is well considered, says Long Jiyun, 57, Jiang's mother.

"For him, it's more than just about paying back a debt to those who saved him. He is getting more out of life. I'm sure he enjoys it even more now," the 57-year-old says.

Jiang remembers his joy when he first saved someone's life in early 2009. A child playing with fire while at home alone had set the house ablaze.

"I rushed into the room and carried the kid out. I was really delighted, at that moment," Jiang recalls.

No one is happier to see Jiang's joy than Long, who moved millions of TV viewers during the quake by risking her own life to trek hundreds of miles from Guizhou to where her son was trapped in rubble.

"He used to be extremely introverted and seldom told us what was on his mind," she says "He is much more talkative now. He even shares his secrets with me."

Jiang has twice been awarded third-class merits at the brigade.

His excellence earned him the chance to continue his studies at the Kunming Fire Command School in September 2011. He will graduate in June and then return to the Shanghai Firefighter Brigade.


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