Some people like to believe they have a guardian angel watching out for them. On July 6, 2013, Dinnell Clarke had 15 of them.
And that's before the York City woman even made it through the doors of York Hospital's emergency department.
Nearly 14 months and multiple surgeries later, Clarke was able to personally thank and honor the firefighters, ambulance crew members and 911 dispatchers who helped saved her life the day she suffered severe burns.
Clarke was cooking at the home of a friend on West Cottage Place that day when a grease fire started.
"I pretty much panicked and tried to save the house," she said.
Clarke, now 25, grabbed the pan and rushed out the door with it, but an incoming draft sent flames onto her. Her reaction to being hit by flames caused grease to splash back onto her, she said.
"Forty percent of my body (suffered) second- and third-degree burns," she said, including her chest, arms and stomach.
Terrified, Clarke called 911. Dispatchers told her to get out of the house, turn on the garden hose and get cold water on her burns, she said.
'A blur': But her wounds were too severe to manage the hose and spigot. Because the house wasn't on fire, dispatchers then told her to go back inside, get in the tub and run cold water on the burns, she said.
"Everything after that was a blur," Clarke said.
York City firefighters arrived first and provided medical attention to Clarke until a White Rose ambulance crew arrived and took over, according to York City Fire Chief David Michaels.
Clarke was transferred to Allentown's Lehigh Valley Hospital, where she spent 3-1/2 weeks, she said. Despite having undergone a number of surgeries, she still needs more.
Recognized: On Thursday, nine city firefighters, three York County 911 Center dispatchers and three ambulance crew members were honored for helping to save Clarke's life. It happened at the York City Fire Department's annual awards ceremony.
Clarke handed them their chief's commendations, thanking and hugging them.
"I'd just like to thank you all from the bottom of my heart," she said. "It's because of you guys I'm still here."
"We're glad to see her standing here today," Michaels told the standing-room-only crowd. "She's going to help us with some fire safety education — to get our message out."
Honorary firefighter: That's when the chief told Clarke she had been made an honorary member of the York City Fire Department.
Clarke said she wants to help the fire department with outreach and education "to help others prevent this from happening to them, and to inspire other (burn victims)."
Clarke said she also hopes to start a local support group for burn victims.
"Some days I don't want to get up," she said, but is in therapy and working toward accepting what has happened. "I'm trying to keep moving."
Guardian angels:Honored were Assistant Chief Greg Altland and firefighters Dave Bowman, Kevin Holtzapple, Brandon Hyder, Ivan Flanscha, Joe Portner, Shawn Caruso, Kevin Westover and Wade Fleming.
Also honored were 911 dispatchers Bob Berry, Michael Grim and James Sawor; White Rose paramedics Brad Anderson and Jason Zeigler; and White Rose emergency-medical technician Donald Sanders.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com.