Red Cross volunteer, Courtney, began to choked up as she told the story of one of her most unforgettable house fires. An older adult women was living alone and her daughter and neighbors believed she had been at home all day. The woman was not answering her phone and the firefighters had searched the house multiple times in an attempt to find her. When the entire house went up in flames, the firefighters and Red Cross volunteers could do nothing more than wait.
Courtney expressed the enormous sense of relief she felt when the woman showed up to the house from her afternoon outing. Unfortunately, Courtney has seen a handful of casualties during her 15 years and she was extremely thankful that this would not be another one. Most people are devastated to see their belongings and homes burned to any degree, and understandably so. But this woman was different in that she showed minimal concern for the material objects inside her home and was merely thankful for the support of the Red Cross Disaster Action Team (DAT).
Courtney has been with the Red Cross for 15 years. After retiring from her full time job, she decided that she wanted to give back to the community and volunteer for an organization she truly believed in. She found that place here with the American Red Cross and represents millions of other volunteers who have also become passionate and dedicated to their volunteer work with this organization. While numerous volunteer positions are available with the Red Cross, Courtney decided to volunteer with the Disaster Action Team. She is among the first to respond to local house fires and has given countless hours of her time to helping victims of disasters.
Courtney has seen it all over the years as she shared stories with me of some of her most memorable house fires. Though these stories are all so different, a constant I noticed is the high regard Courtney holds for firefighters. Courtney told me about an evening fire at an apartment complex where firefighters carried about 20 people down the ladders on their backs in the pouring rain. She also remembered a house fire where the fire department knew the family was safe, but went in when the family expressed concern for their cat who was trapped inside. The cat, who was found hiding in the basement, was carried out of the burning building with an oxygen mask around its mouth. These courageous firefighters are truly everyday heroes who risk their lives to save the lives of others.
Being a DAT volunteer can be challenges, but at the end of the day, Courtney says the hugs and appreciation the team receives make it all worth it. While she always hopes there are no house fires, Courtney is prepared to lead the team to where ever their assistance is needed.
Published by Hannah Goldstein