Russell was recognized for his actions during the morning of Christmas Eve, when he pulled a badly burned woman from a mobile home that was engulfed in flames.
Russell heard the dispatch call and was the first firefighter on the scene at Clover Branch off Siam Road in the Valley Forge section of the county. Russell said the trailer was already burning heavily when he arrived. Russell checked the structure for anyone inside. A man directed him to an open window, where he saw a woman trying to get out as the flames closed in.
A resolution from the County Commission that was presented to Russell on Tuesday night tells the rest of the story. “Whereas, at the scene of the fire, Mr. Russell, despite enormous risk to his personal safety, put his own life in peril by climbing up the burning structure to save the life of a woman trapped inside and pulled her out of a window; and whereas the heroism displayed on that day by Mr. Russell serves as a great example of his character and the sacrifice he is willing to make to help those in need … ”
Russell could see the woman was badly burned. She was quickly evacuated from the scene and transported to Vanderbilt University Hospital for treatment of her burns.
Russell received recognition from the Carter County Commission Tuesday night, along with a laugh when Carter County Mayor Rusty Barnett, a retired firefighter with the Elizabethton Fire Department, told Russell he always wanted to be a firefighter.