Employee Bravery: 10 Incredible Acts

"Courageous under fire" and "heroic act of bravery" are phrases usually used for describing law enforcement officers and military personnel, not the gas station clerk down the street or cashier at your local hardware store. Although many employers discourage staff from taking matters into their own hands during a robbery or other dangerous situation (they don't want anyone to get hurt) for some that's easier said than done.

Extraordinary circumstances sometimes make for the most amazing stories of courage from the most unlikely of places, as in this list of 10 incredible acts of employee bravery.

1. Fire rescue

Jorge Rivera, a Comcast employee on his way to an appointment in Maryland, used his truck and ladder to help pull six people from a burning apartment building after noticing smoke pouring from several windows and a woman leaning out the window with a small child. Firefighters soon arrived but said "there was little rescue to be done" thanks to Rivera's quick actions. Refusing lauds of heroism, Rivera commented, "It was nothing. I got two kids at home. If they were somewhere burning, what would you do?" before proceeding down the street to his scheduled appointment.

2. Hot coffee to the face

Chris Hegnes, the manager of a supply store in Crescent City, Calif., showed up to work early one morning and was surprised by a masked intruder rushing toward him with a hammer. Startled, Hegnes threw his hot coffee in the man's face and sent him running to a car parked out back. The intruder had apparently been trying to break into the store's safe, and although he escaped he did so empty-handed.

3. Glasgow Airport hero

John Smeaton, a baggage handler at Glasgow Airport in Scotland, became an instant Internet celebrity after bravely rushing forward to help police subdue a terrorist that was attempting to drive a flaming jeep into the airport terminal. "He went straight for the officer and started to attack him," Smeaton told the Associated Press after the incident. "I thought, 'You're not hitting the police mate, there's no chance.' We all tried to get a boot in at him and just try to subdue the guy."

4. Double-team tackle

Two employees at a Best Buy in the Denver area pursued and tackled a shoplifter, wrestling him to the ground. The criminal pulled out a knife, and after cutting one of the managers, escaped -- without his loot. The incident sparked controversy as the two employees were later fired for not following Best Buy's policy of not pursuing shoplifters.

5. Heroic hotel staffer

A hotel staff member at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai is responsible for saving the lives of several guests, including a family with small children, when several terrorist gunmen invaded the hotel and opened fire. The staff member, identified only as "Mr. Rajan," shielded the guests from a spray of bullets with his own body; it is unknown if he survived.

6. Liquor store chase

Liquor store employee Mr. Talbot gave chase after an armed robber pointed a gun at him, grabbed a handful of cash from the register, and bolted out the door. Mr Talbot pursued the robber out of the store and down the street before finally tackling him in a nearby alley and holding him there until police arrived. Talbot had no idea at the time, but it turned out the gun was fake.

7. Fast-food rescue

Nigel Haskett jumped to the rescue of a woman who was being abused by a man in the McDonald's restaurant where he worked in Little Rock, Ark. In the scuffle he was shot several times but survived, although there is ongoing controversy about who will pay his $300,000-plus in medical bills.

8. Pharmacy pursuit

One of the employees working in a CVS Pharmacy in Chicago chased after a shoplifter just after 11am on a Saturday morning, chasing him out of the store, running him down in a nearby alley and knocking him unconscious. The shoplifter was later pronounced dead (due to strangulation) but the Chicago Police Department ruled the death accidental and decided not to press charges against the employee.

9. Manchester martyr

A Hartsford Distributors employee in Manchester, Conn, sacrificed himself to save others when he spotted a gunman and warned others to run to safety. Although everyone he warned escaped, the hero himself was not so lucky as the gunman pursued him and shot him in the head, killing him.

10. Ticketing the police

Showing a different kind of bravery, a traffic warden in Liverpool, England took the stand that no one is above the law when he spotted a parked police car illegally blocking an alley. After noting the offense, he calmly walked up to the vehicle (presumably without the police officer inside) and slapped a parking ticket on the windshield. I wonder if it ever got paid?

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