Smoke alarms for the deaf donated to Etoile VFD

WEBXTRA: Smoke alarms for the deaf
WEBXTRA: Smoke alarms for the deaf
Updated: Feb. 3, 2021 at 11:03 PM CST
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ETOILE, Texas (KTRE) - A piercing alarm sounds loudly. A recorded sound of ‘Fire!’ Get out’ is heard by everyone in the room, except for Lisa Goetzman. She temporarily took out her hearing aide.

“Lisa, did you hear the sound?”, asks Deb Harkins, Lisa’s mother. She signs the question to her daughter. Lisa answers, “I didn’t hear the sound, I just felt the vibration.”

Smoke alarms for the deaf donated to Etoile VFD

It’s a round ‘shaker’ that will be placed under Lisa’s pillow each night when she removes a hearing aid before sleep. Should a smoke alarm anywhere in the house go off Lisa will be shaken out of sleep.

“It’s like being on a massage table and you have a very heavy Swedish woman going boom, boom, boom,” described Lisa. Her comment is met by laughter.

Lisa and her mother Deb Harkins can share a laugh over the comparison.

Deafness has been Lisa’s life. She was born in 1969 before there was a rubella vaccine and before newborns got hearing checks.

“I had rubella while I was pregnant, and she is actually the last generation of rubella babies in Texas.”

Lisa is extremely functional in the hearing world.

“It all started at 2 1/2 in a school in Houston,” explains Lisa.

Early training, a hearing aid and being fluent in speech reading or reading lips gives Lisa confidence. But at bedtime silence sets in.

“That’s one thing I was worried about, is my safety,” said Lisa.

Together, technology and an American Red Cross, Lufkin donation to the Etoile Volunteer Fire Department will make Lisa and others safer.

Etoile VFD public information officer Jan Amen explained, “I already knew about Lisa because she is my neighbor, but I contacted the school and they have a family with two littles who can’t hear. Any housefire is tragic, but to lose those little kids because they couldn’t hear the smoke alarm would be just awful.”

Lisa says she’ll grab her dog and get out should the alarm ever go off, knowing the device could give her the best gifts:

“Make me live longer and be happier.”

The smoke alarm detection system donated to Etoile VFD costs on the retail market about $225 each. The bedside device is triggered by the sound of a standard household smoke alarm. Donations can sometimes be arranged through the American Red Cross.

The devices can also be purchased online from several different manufacturers.

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