Nov 21, 2012 11:59 PM
TUCSON - Becoming a babysitter is a rite of passage and huge responsibility. Jennifer Espersen didn't think her first night on the job would be so traumatic.
Under immense pressure, Jennifer made all the right moves and now firefighters are calling her a hero.
"The smoke detector in the hallway started going off," recalls Jennifer. It was Sept 29 just before 11:00pm.
The young boy she was caring for, Pablo, was asleep in his room.
"When I came and looked in here. His bed was right there and the fire was about right here," Jennifer explains.
"And then I called him. And he came out the end of his bed...and then I told him to kind of get low. So we were just kind of like walking. Well not walking, we were running down this hall way."
Jennifer reached for the cordless handset of the landline. The two scrambled outside into the dark.
"I could barely see the numbers on this but I was still able to dial 911."
Jennifer was shaking. Her parents were home nearby in the neighborhood.
"I texted my parents capitol letters F.I.R.E. Fire!"
Jennifer's parents called Pablo's folks as they rushed to the house.
"And she still had the 911 operator on the phone," says Dale Espersen, Jennifer's dad.
"She had Pablo on her back. And she had her itouch, which is what she sent the text with. And so she was kind of crouched over like this as our lights hit her when we came pulling up."
Moments later Rural Metro was on scene. But Jennifer was still on duty.
"And she was actually able to tell me what was on fire, where it was located, how to get to it," says Capt. Scott Ferguson with Rural Metro. "We went right according where she told us and was able to locate the fire and extinguish it quickly.
For her actions Rural Metro Fire presented Jennifer with a Chief's coin; a precious token indeed, while Pablo's mom has priceless words.
"She saved my little boys life so I'm eternally grateful to her. And I thought she did everything right,"
It was a portable DVD player in Pablo's room that caused the blaze.
Talk about presence of mind, remember, Jennifer is only 12-years-old.
She took a babysitting class with the Red Cross over the summer. Jennifer tells us the most important lesson she learned is to stay calm in a crisis.