MORRISTOWN, Tenn. (WATE) — Billy Hale, fire marshal for the City of Morristown, is crediting three bystanders for coming to the aid of an elderly Morristown woman after her home caught fire Tuesday night.
Hale said the initial call came in around 4:42 p.m. He said the three bystanders – Julie Little and her sister Tonya Phillips from Florida and a man who also happened to be a retired firefighter from Florida – worked together to get the victim out of the home on Cool Springs Road.
Next, he said, the two women started CPR.
“I’m confident in saying that lady is still alive today because of it,” Hall said.
Little credited her father with the quick thinking and action.
“Our dad used to be a firefighter,” she said. “He just raised us to always put everyone before ourselves. We really don’t understand what took over, just something took over and we refused to leave her.”
“I would never leave anybody,” Phillips added.
Their quick action, Hale added, is something that “doesn’t happen enough in today’s times.”
While Hale praised the trio’s actions, he also pointed out entering a burning building is something he advises against.
“These people were lucky in the fact that she was laying right near an exterior door,” he said. “I’m glad in this case it worked out the way it did. But, all too often we see people risking their life for something that is not a risk-versus-reward kind of action, and sometimes bad things happen.”
The fire marshal also noted our region enjoys quick response times, so it’s typically best to wait for emergency crews.
“I’m thankful they did, but you always have to assess each situation differently because the risk, sometimes, is not worth the reward,” Hale said.
Investigators have not released the victim’s name at the time, though Hale confirmed the woman is around 75-years-old and the owner of the home. She was airlifted to UT Medical Center and transferred to Vanderbilt University Medical Center around 10:30 Tuesday night.