Crash gave Gisela Cooper direction
by By GREG KAYLOR Banner Staff Writer
Apr 01, 2013 | 2177 views | 0 0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Gisela Cooper
Gisela Cooper
Gisela Cooper came to Tennessee by way of Mexico. It was a near-death experience which set her future.

Cooper is a volunteer firefighter with Bradley County Fire-Rescue.

Her goal was to come to America and study to be an emergency medical technician/paramedic. Since moving to Bradley County four years ago, she found an opportunity to learn and help the community through the fire department.

Born in Michoacan, Mexico, Cooper’s trade was that of a travel agent, owning her company, which provided opportunity for her own travels and a flexible schedule.

The mother of three was single at that time in her life. She had earned her degree in business and set out to build the future for her family.

She had worked hard and built a good client base, including one organization which provided travel arrangements for exchange students.

That was how she met her husband, Jerry Cooper, who was a native of Washington, D.C.

Jerry recently earned his degree from the University of Tennessee, and went to work for TVA and most recently Wacker, as an engineer coordinator.

A few years back, Gisela was involved in a motorcycle crash in Mexico.

She said she was in a coma for nine days.

“I had to relearn everything,” Gisela said.

The driver of the vehicle that struck the motorcycle Gisela was on fled the scene, but someone was able to get a license tag number which eventually was traced and the alleged offender was located.

After recovering, Gisela met Jerry and their lives as a couple and family began.

“The EMTs and paramedics saved my life. If it wasn’t for them, I would have died,” she said.

The experience of seeing someone she didn’t know fight for her life opened her eyes to give back and help others.

“I decided then that I wanted to be an EMT or paramedic,” Gisela said.

Jared Hamm, a firefighter with BCFR told Gisela of opportunities to learn ‘First Response’ by joining the fire department.

Gisela took Hamm up on the offer and began training as a firefighter and first responder.

For nearly two years, Gisela has learned and performed duties as a firefighter and is now working in BCFR Administration as well and currently working on training materials and testing for new firefighters.

She has been working with Paula Garner and interim Fire Chief Troy Spence.

When not working at BCFR or continuing her training (which is always ongoing with all firefighters — volunteer or paid) Gisela enjoys spending time with her children Eduardo, Alan and Ferney.

She also enjoys working puzzles and cooking.

As if she wasn’t busy enough, Gisela has accepted another challenge. She already speaks Spanish and English, but now is in the process of studying Italian.

“Italian is a lot like Spanish, but it is more difficult to write,” she said.

The versatility and multiple languages will help her and the community in the future as she pursues her dream to be an emergency responder.

“I am so happy to have so many good friends at the fire department who help. I am here to do good for the community. My opportunity to learn and be a part of Bradley County has led for me to give something back, and I have a great opportunity to do that through the fire department and through service,” Gisela said.