Jessica Fisher, a native of Knoxville, knows what a home fire can do to a family. In 1997, when Fisher was just 16 years old, her family lost everything in a fire. Her little brothers were playing with matches in bed and started a fire. Everyone escaped the fire, but that night has stayed with her.
“It was an awful experience and we were trapped when the fire went down the hallway,” she said. “We had no escape plan. I had to run back into my bedroom and jump from my window. I was barefoot and in my pajamas. My brothers were just six then. It was so cold then because it was March. The enormity of that night was unreal.”
It wasn’t long after the fire department arrived that the Red Cross disaster volunteers came. “There were two ladies and one gentleman from Red Cross,” Fisher added. “I will never forget that one of the ladies was so kind. I was freezing so she sat next to me and wrapped me in a blanket.” The volunteer told Fisher and her family she would sit with them and make a plan of where they could go and stay for a few days while they worked on their case. “They were with us every step of the way, when we need it.”
In March, Fisher decided it was time to give back. She decided to volunteer with the Red Cross as a Disaster Action Team member. “I remember how it felt,” she added. “I have taken my training and I am on call. I am there whenever they need me.”
She has already been on several calls including a house fire that took her back to that fateful night with her family. “It was a man who lost everything in a duplex fire,” she remembered. “He lost his two dogs and was so very sad. I remember that feeling. It is like you are in deep water in your emotions. I want to be that person to help people overcome that fear.”
While she volunteers her time in the East Tennessee Chapter, all chapters in the Tennessee Region need volunteers. Whether it is working as a disaster volunteer or as a medical screener in a donation facility, volunteers are desperately needed. Fisher said, “You can donate your time, blood, and money. Just be there. There are so many people who have these horrible things happen and they need someone in that moment and if you can be that person.”
“We are so honored by Jessica has come on board to volunteer with us and she is already an outstanding volunteer,” said Sharon Hudson, executive director for the East Tennessee Chapter. “She is recruiting others to volunteer and is always there when we need her. Her story is really a full circle mission moment.”
For more information on how to prevent and prepare for a home fire, click on RedCross.org/Tennessee.
If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering with the Red Cross, please visit, RedCross.org/Volunteer.