Do Not Ever Doubt
By Pam Elliott R.N., B.S.N.
Burn Survivor and Phoenix Society Advocate
(Phoenix Advocates and firefighters at the NFFF Everyone Goes Home Advocacy Workshop. Pam Elliott is second from left.)
When first approached about being an advocate, I was reluctant. I argued that I had just lived my life and that was it! Eventually I was convinced that it was important to share my story, not only for my own healing, but also for those who would hear it. I took the Phoenix Advocacy Training offered and began an incredible journey. My life has never been the same.
Whenever the Phoenix Society invites me to participate in advocacy I am always happy to oblige their requests. However, recently I was invited to a collaborative event with the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation to attend the “Everyone Goes Home” workshop. I was surprised because usually the event involves speaking to a building code committee or city council, or sharing my story in some venue. I began questioning myself, is this something I should be doing? Why did they choose me?
I boarded the shuttle outside the airport, spotted a fireman and asked permission to sit beside him. He granted permission and I asked if he was attending the NFFF workshop and where he was from?
“West Virginia,” he said.
I replied, “Me too.”
Perhaps I was supposed to attend this workshop.
At the next stop, there were three firemen from different parts of Tennessee. I know two people from the state of Tennessee involved with the fire service and asked if they might know them. They did! Are you kidding me? I became convinced I was supposed to be at this workshop.
On Saturday, we introduced the group to the purpose and programs of the Phoenix Society. To introduce Phoenix SOAR for firefighters, we showed a video of a firefighter sharing his story. In the audience of firefighters, one person had trained him and another had been on the call when he was injured.
We invited the firefighter who had been on the call to share more of the story and he did. The pain he shared that had happened 11 years previous was evident as he recounted the event. Moments like this are precious. It felt sacred to me that he had shared such an intimate story.
After we ended the presentation, we went to another conference room for a focus group. Having just begun our meeting, we heard someone knocking on the door. Three firemen entered the room and commented that our presentation had been remarkable and inspired their group to “pass the hat.” They handed us an envelope of donations for the Phoenix Society and said those who didn’t have cash were making online donations. What? Really? How incredible was that! Our hearts melted.
If you are approached to become an advocate, do not ever doubt that what you have to say may touch others in ways you never dreamed possible.