As a student at Hillhouse High School in New Haven, junior Taylor Perry has taken courses on Community Emergency Response.
Thursday night, the 16-year-old notified first responders, as an emergency unfolded before her eyes.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say a hero, just a citizen that felt the need to help out others,” Perry told NBC Connecticut.
Perry was playing with her siblings in the parking lot of John Martinez Elementary School after a basketball came when she spotted flames coming from the third floor of an apartment building across the street.
“I automatically called 911,” she said.
As New Haven firefighters rushed to the scene, Perry said she helped bang on doors and windows to alert everyone, including children, inside the burning building.
“I kind of didn’t want to leave until I knew everyone was out of the house and I actually did my part,” Perry said.
Everyone made it out safely and it took firefighters about 45 minutes to put out the fire, Assistant Fire Chief Matt Marcarelli said.
The fire appears to have started by children playing with matches, Marcarelli added.
The American Red Cross is assisting four families displaced for a second night after the fire at 127 James Street.
“You should always stop and help others and doing something better for your community,” Perry said, “and that if it’s always an emergency, the first thing you should always do is call 911.”
Perry said she hopes to intern with the New Haven Fire Department and her goal is to one day become a registered nurse.