Firefighter returns to camp with 9-year-old burn survivor
by Elsie Hodnett
For the fourth year, a Lincoln firefighter and a 9-year-old burn survivor attended camp together.

Lincoln Fire Lt. Joshua Vincent said in 2009, he taught fire prevention using E.D.I.T.H. (exit drills in the home) to students at Head Start in Lincoln, including 5-year-old Brantson Smith.

“A couple months after teaching the class, I walked into the office and Fire Chief Mike Wesley asked if I had taught those classes at Head Start recently,” he said. “I told the chief I had, and he gave me a piece of paper and told me to call a young lady about her son. After making the call and introducing myself, Brantson’s mother, Misty Smith, asked me if I was the one who taught fire prevention to Lincoln Head Start.”

Vincent said when he told her he had, she teared up.

“She said, ‘I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart,’” he said. “I was confused and asked if everything was alright. She told me Brantson had been burned very badly when a fire started in their home. Brantson, who was 5, was in his room taking a nap when the fire started in his room.”

Vincent said Brantson was unable to escape, so he followed the fire prevention instructions by getting off his bed and onto the floor.

“He covered his face and crawled away from the fire and began to scream at the top of his lungs,” Vincent said. “Brantson was able to get the attention of his 16-year-old cousin, Kalea Roberts, who was babysitting him. Kalea was able to pull him from the fire, but Brantson was severely burned and stayed in the Children’s Hospital Burn Unit for more than a month.

“Once Brantson was able to get out of the burn unit, I promised his mother that if she would allow him to go Camp Conquest, a summer camp just for burn injury survivors that are or once were patients at the Children’s Hospital Burn Unit, I would go as his counselor. I have kept my promise every year since.”

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© 2013