By: Christopher Quinn, Public Affairs Volunteer
Eleanora Robinson was overwhelmed when she arrived at her Douglasville, Georgia, home after grocery shopping and saw pitch-black smoke pouring out of it.
Her husband, mother, and her two children were gathered outside in the cool January air, watching the emergency workers trying to save their house. But one member had not yet been found.
Knala, the much-doted-on six-year-old dog of her son, Kevin Alexander, had not made it out. When word got to firefighters, they used a high-tech thermal camera in the smoke-engulfed blackout conditions to find Knala lying in a bedroom, overwhelmed by smoke. Reaching through it, a firefighter picked Knala up and carried her out.
When Douglas County paramedic JoAnn Anderson saw the unconscious dog, she jumped into action “Instinct kicked in. I took off my mask and started doing chest compressions,” on the animal, she said. An oxygen bottle was brought out to help get plenty of clean air into Knala’s lungs.
“When she came around, it just made my heart fill with joy,” Anderson said. But Knala was still having trouble breathing.
American Red Cross volunteers know the importance of family pets. They provide services for them as well, such as an online course in pet first aid and information about creating plans for pets in case of evacuation.
When three Georgia Red Cross volunteers with the Disaster Action Team showed up at the fire to help the family get through the next few tough days, they brought something that proved critical for Knala. A debit card to help with the family’s immediate needs.
And for the family, what they needed most was to get Knala to a veterinarian.
“It was critical for her,” Robinson said. “She was having trouble breathing and started foaming at the mouth.”
“That’s Kevin’s baby,” she added.
“The vet bill that night was $1,000,” Robinson said, which included medications, an IV with electrolytes and antibiotics. The debit card provided by the Red Cross paid for half of that. With that help, the family retained more of its savings to pay for immediate needs, such as food and clothing.
Red Cross workers also helped immediately replace medications for her mother and glasses for daughter Kye Alexander by the next morning.
“It was so helpful,” Alexander said.
The Red Cross helped the family bridge the difficult crossing from a personal disaster to a place where they felt supported and on their way to finding a new stability.
She was surprised by how quickly the volunteers got there and began their work. “They were there within an hour,” she said.
Deputy Chief Eric Phillips was elated that county emergency workers were able to save the house from much damage. That means the family will be able to get back into it.
He, too, recognizes the importance of the Red Cross Disaster Action Teams and the work they do after home fires.
“We love the Red Cross,” he said.
If you, or someone you know, is interested in contributing to the Red Cross mission and becoming a volunteer, or a part of the Disaster Action Team, visit redcross.org/volunteer for more information.