Friday, June 13, 2008

7th-grader honored for fire rescue


When 13-year-old Perla Diaz woke up to the sound of cracking wood and the smell of smoke on April 26, 2008, the first thing she did was wake her two younger siblings and save their lives.
Once on the front lawn, Perla said flames could be seen through the front door, engulfing all of her family’s hard-earned possessions.
She ran next door, called 911, then phoned her mother who was working late at Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital. By the time her mother arrived, the fire was out and the majority of the home was destroyed.

A lot of things were going through Perla’s mind that night, the most important of which she said was taught to her during a fire safety presentation at Harding Elementary School three years ago.
As a result of her heroism, the Santa Barbara City Fire Department gave Perla its Recognition Award yesterday during a presentation at Harding Elementary School.
With her younger siblings in tow, Perla accepted the award and told her story.
“I was sleeping in the living and the [garage] door was open,” she said. “I stood up and it was blazing. I ran to get my brother in the farthest room and got my little sister and ran outside. I didn’t even put on my shoes.”
Now a seventh grader at Santa Barbara Junior High, Perla said the fire safety presentation was one of those educational moments, when the student’s mind is elsewhere because they don’t think such a disaster could happen to them, but something tells them to listen anyway.
“I didn’t think it was going to happen to me, so I was like, why should I listen? But then I thought in case it does, I should pay attention. Then it did happen,” she said.
Perla’s mother, Elvia Garcia, said she couldn’t be prouder of her daughter.
“I always tell my kids when something happens, just run or do something. Don’t wait until something bad happens,” she said, adding that she hopes other parents will talk to their children about safety.
The fire presentation Perla received is given to all of the city’s third grade students. It is administered by using the fire department’s Fire Safety House, a small, mobile training house that is interactive and educational.
Gracie Huerta, the fire department’s public education coordinator, said the program is taught to children in the third grade because they’re more apt to listen and share what they’ve learned with their family.
“We are very excited this event turned out as well as it did,” Huerta said.
For Perla, who lost nearly everything she owned in the fire, the most important thing is that her family is safe.
“The first thing I wanted to do was save my family,” she said. “I wanted to save my family more than myself.”

1 comment:

Greg Knowles said...

With all the bad news that is out there, this is a refreshing story. Thanks!