In her final installment, blogger Cindy Rutter discusses how volunteering and promoting home fire sprinklers gave her a sense of purpose following a home fire that burned 85 percent of her body:
Working as a burn unit nurse, I took pride in helping people recover. I was proud of my accomplishments, but felt I could be doing more to eliminate the pain associated with burns. I eventually found a new sense of purpose by volunteering with the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors.
I got involved on many levels, from planning their annual World Burn Congress to developing their Survivors Offering Assistance in Recovery (SOAR) Program. I also had a hand in developing Phoenix’s advocacy program for home fire sprinklers. If one person could be saved from death or injury from a home fire—something I had endured—I needed to be involved in that effort.
In 2003, I bought a sprinklered home in California. I have felt safer in that home than any other I’ve lived in. I wish every homeowner were given information on how inexpensive sprinklers are if installed during a home’s construction. This technology pales in comparison to the financial consequences of being in a burn unit or the lifelong impact of a burn injury. I wanted to tell all homebuilders, contractors, and others that fire sprinklers could have prevented my injuries and others from living a life of pain and turmoil from home fire. Through support from the Phoenix Society, I eventually took my story to legislators and congressional members. They needed to know that nobody should go through what I went through.
Sadly, though, people are still enduring these injuries. I’ve been blessed to volunteer at burn camps for more than 25 years. I have facilitated adult burn retreats and youth summits. Recently I began facilitating a burn survivor family camp through the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation. I have spoken annually at national and international burn conferences. My prevention message is always in full force.
I have fulfilled a lifelong dream of being a nurse. My career has shifted a bit; I now am working as a therapist intern and now tend to a person’s psychological needs. Volunteering countless hours, however, has paid in ways money can’t touch.
Every time I attend a burn community event and hear how many individuals are burned from home fires, I still cringe. Fire sprinklers are the solution to this problem. We as a community have to band together to have our voices heard at every venue possible. Let’s all stand together and demand change.
I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to share my journey with you.