OC firefighter dies after training exercise

SANTA ANA — A 30-year veteran of the Orange County Fire Authority collapsed and died today after a training exercise.

Fifty-six year old James M. Owen, collapsed at the agency's training facility just before 11:30 a.m., according to the OCFA. He was taken to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana, where he was pronounced dead around 12:30 p.m.

According to the OCFA, Owen spent most of time based at Fire Station 4 in Irvine, working as both a paramedic and a haz-mat firefighter.

OCFA Capt. Greg McKeown said Owen and other firefighters were preparing to leave the training facility to go to lunch when he collapsed in full cardiac arrest. The firefighters and paramedics who were there attended to him, but could not save his life.

"Firefighter Owen got the best care he could have,'' McKeown told KCAL9. "We're not used to working on our own. Today's a huge loss for the Orange County Fire Authority and for the community.

"I worked with him for many years, and I've seen him, actually his hands touching patients and doing magic and doing the things that he's been trained to do and saving lives,'' he said. ``And I just can't tell you how saddened we are for him, and his family, and really it's a great loss for the community because he was an asset to the community. Helped many people throughout his career.''

Owen is survived by his wife, Sharon, and three sons: Jim Jr., Daniel and Kevin.

Funeral services were pending.