Prints and patterns are just about everywhere in Eileen Flickinger's front room. Pieces for her patchwork and applique are within easy reach. She's a juried artist for Pennsylvania and the Reading-Berks Guild of Craftsman. It keeps her busy and keeps her mind at ease. You'll see a lot of horses in her work. Flickinger was an accomplished equestrian. She used to ride everyday.
"They aren't sure if I hit my head on the ground or on the fence, but I was in a coma for three months," Flickinger said.
The fall happened at a show in Quentin, near Lebanon, in 1982. Flickinger was 29 years old. It left her with a traumatic brain injury.
"Yeah, I shouldn't be here," she said.
Flickinger would have that same sentiment when tragedy struck again, this time at home, in September 2019. 911 dispatcher Courtney Jakofcich was working that morning.
"The call came in as like a 911 hang up, so I wasn't really expecting anything," Jakofcich explained. "We get hundreds of those a day, and I just dialed it back and then everything kind of progressed from there when she answered the call."
"I was sleeping upstairs in my room," Flickinger recalled. "That is when I saw the black clouds of smoke coming down the hall."
"She couldn't get out, and that was the worst part, was that she, just that she could not physically get out of the house," Jakofcich said.
A woman was taken to the hospital after a house fire in Hamburg Sunday morning.
Flickinger's home on State Street in Hamburg was on fire. She was trapped in her bedroom upstairs. She couldn't get out of bed, open a window or close the door. She grabbed the phone and called 911.
Jakofcich spent the next 15 minutes trying to keep her calm, and talking helped Flickinger feel less alone.
"Yes, it sure did. I told somebody else what was going on," Flickinger said.
"It was definitely relief, but it wasn't as relieving until I heard them and I heard them come into the bedroom," Jakofcich recalled.
Hamburg firefighters made the rescue, carrying Flickinger out of the house. That was Jakofcich's cue to disconnect.
"I think she is a hero because she has helped me," Flickinger said. "She is my hero."
She saved her life, giving Flickinger another chance.