MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - If you could get inside the mind of someone you consider a hero, what would you see?
It was a brush with near-tragedy as a teenager that ignited a dream in this month's Mid-South Hero, Brenda Hartfield.
"It's something that's inside me. I just want to keep going and helping. Trying to help as many people as I can,” said Hartfield.
Brenda is a 20-year veteran on the Memphis Fire Department and a member of its special operations team.
She was the first woman ever assigned to a rescue truck in the city. She’s also a volunteer firefighter in Fayette County.
For the last handful of years she has been a K-9 handler on Tennessee Task Force One.
Her drive to help began as a teenager.
"When I was 15, my brother was shot at the house and when the firemen came to help him, that’s what sealed it for me, cause they saved his life. I knew right then that’s what I wanted to do,” said Hartfield.
It wasn't until she was 30 that Brenda realized that dream.
She'd spent the years before that caring for her daughter who was born with Turner's Syndrome and spent the large part of a decade in and out of the hospital.
When she finally joined the fire department, it was the leading women around her that kept her flame lit.
"Sue McMannus, my chief. I saw her … at that time she was a lieutenant when I came on, and I saw that she was in special operations and I said, 'I want to do that.' Because I want to keep pushing myself to take all those extra classes,” said Hartfield. “Hope Lloyd was instrumental, she may not know that, but she was instrumental in me wanting to continue pursuing more in the fire department.”
Hartfield distinguished herself for her hard work and intuition.
Michael Lawrence is a program coordinator on Tennessee Task Force One and worked alongside Brenda in an ambulance as members of the fire department.
"She was able to recognize where I was going before I would even ask her for something,” said Lawrence.
Lawrence says it’s her dedication to the people she serves that makes Brenda a hero.
"I think anybody that's willing to step up and help community, whatever that community is, is a hero. And she's one of those,” said Lawrence.
Looking back on the firefighters and the other women in the department she looked up to, Hartfield hopes she can provide that example for other women as well.
"The bond that I have with all my fellow fire fighters is unbreakable. It's something very special and I hope that if there's other women out there that want to work hard towards, I hope they do that,” said Hartfield.
It's that dedication to your job, your co-workers and the public that makes you Brenda Hartfield, this month's Mid-South Hero.
If you know anyone worthy of being called a hero, nominate them here.