By Tara Vreeland, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- Co-workers of a Tulsa woman rescued from an apartment fire earlier this week say she has made a difference in people's lives.
Niki Cain, 55, works as a substance abuse counselor at Tulsa Rightway Medical. Her positive personality serves her well to help patients quit their addictions.
Cain is in the ICU burn unit at an Oklahoma City hospital after being critically injured Tuesday morning in a Tulsa apartment fire that fire officials say was started by a meth lab.
One person died after the fire, and two others were hospitalized in critical condition.
Flames and smoke blocked Cain's exits, and her pleading 10-minute call to the 911 dispatcher was painful for her friends to hear.
"You feel kinda helpless listening to the video and as you heard her, how helpless she was," co-worker Larry French said.
"We felt what she was going through, and it was agonizing," said another co-worker, Kelley Wells.
Cain's co-workers were devastated to hear the fire was caused by a meth lab.
"I was livid," Ann Jamieson said. "I was just so angry that I didn't know how to process it."
Drug abuse and recovery are what Cain works at daily.
"The irony in it that the type of field she's in and what she's dedicated her life to on a day-to-day basis that this would sort of come back and be the thing that would put her in this position," French said. "It is kinda frustrating. The irony is kinda frustrating."
Cain works closely with 80-90 patients. She counsels on sobriety maintenance, their personal lives and finances. Her patients are concerned for her recovery.
"They wanna know how she's doing," Jamieson said. "They want her to come back. They miss her. Her patients love her."
Despite the reasons she is in the hospital, Cain's co-workers are confident she will come back to work with more enthusiasm than before.
"I know that she would probably be more eager to help to keep people out of these situations and to keep people from getting hurt," Jamieson said. "She's very forgiving."
While Tulsa Rightway Medical continues to work with its patients, the employees are aware they are missing a teammate and are anticipating her return.
"Her patients miss her," Jamieson said. "We miss her. We need her here. It's not the same without her.
"We were talking the other day about her giggle. Every time she talks she's got this identifying giggle that we really all miss."
Cain remains in critical condition Friday night.