American Red Cross disaster action team volunteer Barry Christiansen was called to respond to an early morning mobile home fire in Clearfield, Utah. It was 3:30 a.m. in March, when the average high temperature is 54° and two inches of new snow had just fallen on a winter’s accumulation of more than 4.5 feet. Barry had been sound asleep at home when the call came.
Red Cross disaster action team volunteer Barry Christiansen Photo: compliments of the American Red Cross of Northern Utah
After driving through a terrible winter storm, he and fellow Red Cross disaster action team member Ted Steinhorst arrived at the scene of the fire. The home and all three of the family cars were completely destroyed. The family of eight had been taken to the hospital.
With the storm still raging, Red Cross disaster volunteers headed for the hospital where they learned the father, with burns over half of his body, had been transported to the burn center in Salt Lake City. One of the daughters, seven months pregnant, was in an upstairs room at the hospital.
The rest of the family was ready for release from the emergency room.
Red Crossers made arrangements for the family to get clothing and food, gave them toiletry items and found them a hotel room for the next few nights.
Disaster volunteers Barry Christiansen and Ted Steinhorst took the family to the hotel in their personal cars. When they arrived at the motel the snow was still falling, and the wind was still blowing.
The mom prepared to walk to the comfort of their motel rooms, stepping one foot out of the car. Barry looked at her feet—they were bare. “Stay in the car,” he said.
Then Barry bent down, took off his own shoes and gave them to the mother so she would not have to walk barefoot through the snow. Barry walked next to the mother, in his stocking feet.
Ever humble, Barry did not tell anyone what he had done that night. It was fellow volunteer Ted Steinhorst who reported Barry's humanity to Red Cross director Marcie Valdez. Steinhorst told her, "I had the privilege to witness one of the most compassionate acts of kindness I have ever seen.”
Barry Christiansen is a Red Cross volunteer who gives time as a disaster action team volunteer leader and also serves on the Chapter’s Board of Directors. Barry and 62 other members of Northern Utah’s Red Cross Disaster Action Team, heroes all, last year responded to 44 local home and apartment fires.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and counsels victims of disasters; provides nearly half of the nation's blood supply; teaches lifesaving skills; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization – not a government agency – and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its humanitarian mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at www.redcrosschat.org.