Story courtesy 13 News


Location: Rockford, IL

Date Of Injury: 1986

Overcoming all odds–30 years ago a Rockford woman survived a plane crash but was left with life altering injuries. Only on 13 News, we sit down with this burn survivor to share her story with all of you.

Martha Manning is a Rockford native. She has volunteered for the Rockford Fire Department for 10 years. Her role is to tell the story that changed her life and hopefully save someone else from experiencing pain. Pain that Martha says wouldn’t go away.

Martha was in a plane crash and survived. Flames burned her face and arms beyond recognition. After 30 years of healing and hundreds of procedures– you can hardly tell what Martha has been through.

But that wasn’t always the case. When Martha first got burned she remembers how people treated her.

“I got to the counter and the lady looked at me and she started to scream and ran to the back of the pharmacy.” Martha continues, “I looked over my shoulder because I thought there had to be something scary behind me but then I realized she was screaming at me.”

She says the emotional scars are just as deep as the physical ones.

Martha adds, “When I went back to the hotel room I just sobbed. That was the next stage… realizing the emotional aspects of being a burn survivor.”

This week is National Burn Awareness week. It holds a special place for Martha and her brother-in-law Chief Brian Drerup, Rockford Fire Department’s Division Chief of Training. Together they’ve taught thousands of Rockford Public School students about preventing serious burns.

Chief Drerup says, “Half a million burns happen a year and one third of those being scald burns with a big percentage of those people being children. It is a big problem.”

The Fire Chief speaks to the fire safety tips.

Chief Drerup explains, “Have your water heater turned down just below 120 degrees.”

While Martha is able to speak to the heart, she hopes no one has to go through what she did.

“[When you see] burn survivors don’t look away from them. Look them in the eyes and smile at them.” Martha adds, “If you can’t bring yourself to say anything just smile at them and accept them as a human.”

Martha still mentors children in the Rockford area that are burn survivors teaching them how to come to terms with their new lives.

Burn Survivor, martha manning