Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Governor Perdue Recognizes 9-1-1 Professionals, Young Heroes

Governor Sonny Perdue recognized 9-1-1 professionals and 13 young 9-1-1 heroes from around the state today, proclaiming “9-1-1 Day in Georgia.” The annual ceremony, held in the State Capitol, acknowledges the dedication and commitment of approximately 2,500 professionals who operate local and regional 9-1-1 centers throughout Georgia.

“When you’re in an emergency, seconds can make up the difference between life and death,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “Today, we’re recognizing the men and women from across the state who provide that life-saving service.”

The program also recognizes children, 12 and under, from across the state who successfully used 9-1-1 during the past year to save a life in an emergency.

“We are proud to have 13 young Georgians with us today,” said Governor Perdue. Some of them responded to house fires and accidents, and many of them called 911 when an unconscious parent or grandparent could not.

This year's 9-1-1 Heroes are: Rainee Baker of Tift County; Rachel and Jason Eisenberg of Forsyth County; Nicholas Genova of Forsyth County; Elijah Guardiola of Gwinnett County; Shanteria White and Tyqierra Hines of Tift County; Paige Hood of Newton County; Wendy "Nicole" Jordan of Madison County; Karlee House and Maddox Lewallen of Habersham County; Robert James Kent of Madison County; and, Dixie Marie Sims of Madison County.

"9-1-1 is the front line of emergency response," said Georgia Emergency Management Agency Director Charley English. "We honor the 9-1-1 professionals who work tirelessly to operate the system. They have earned and deserve our gratitude. We also commend these fine young people who activated the system to save lives."

Access to 9-1-1 in Georgia has been greatly improved in recent years. In early 2004, only 121 counties had enhanced 9-1-1 services that allowed dispatchers and call-takers to identify the location of a call. Today, 154 counties either have, or are in the process of implementing enhanced 9-1-1 service.

The names of the children honored and their stories are below:

Name: Rainee Baker
Age at the Time of the Incident: 11
9-1-1 Center: Tifton-Tift County E-911 and Emergency Management Agency
Call-taker: Sonja Parrish

Rainee Baker and her family enjoyed a backyard cookout on February 2, 2007, but unbeknownst to them, a glowing coal had fallen into the bag of charcoal. Throughout the evening, the coal slowly smoldered. The bag ignited as the family slumbered that night, and they were jarred awake by the sound of breaking glass and the smell of smoke. Rainee remained calm and called 9-1-1. “Had Rainee not kept her cool and remembered she needed to call 9-1-1, the fire could have easily spread throughout the house, causing major damage,” says Call-taker Sonja Parrish.

Names: Rachel and Jason Eisenberg
Ages at the Time of the Incident: 9 and 12, respectively
9-1-1 Center: Forsyth County 9-1-1 Center
Call-taker: Cheri Collett

Rachel and Jason Eisenberg were home alone on August 11, 2007, when Jason, who is allergic to stings, was stung several times by yellow jackets. He called out to his sister, who dialed 9-1-1. Rachel gave all the necessary information to ensure a swift response to Call-taker Cheri Collett and then handed the phone to her brother. Jason remained on the line with Collett until his mother returned and help arrived.

Name: Nicholas Genova
Age at the Time of the Incident: 10
9-1-1 Center: Forsyth County 9-1-1 Center
Call-taker: Heather Day

Not all children can remain calm when their mothers are having a medical emergency, but Nicholas Genova did just that. On July 28, 2007, Nicholas was awakened by his mother’s moaning. He went to investigate and found that she was in diabetic shock. Nicholas was well-versed in what to do in this type of crisis and he knew he should bring her some candy, but when he couldn’t find any he realized he should call 9-1-1. He successfully answered all of Call-taker Heather Day’s questions and followed her instructions until help arrived. His mother was revived at the scene.

Name: Elijah Guardiola
Age at the Time of the Incident: 9
9-1-1 Center: Gwinnett County Police Department
Call-takers: Lenora Taylor and Susan Gifford

A 9-1-1 call from a deactivated cell phone may have saved one little boy’s life. On March 14, 2007, Call-taker Lenora Taylor received a call from Elijah Guardiola that began, “Um, excuse me, do you know where Charter Oaks is? I’m in an emergency, me and my dog.” Elijah and his dog were lost in the woods behind his home. After questioning the boy and learning his name, age and general location, an officer was dispatched while Call-taker Taylor used an aero atlas map to pinpoint his position. Fortunately, Elijah was able to provide his mother’s cell phone number, enabling Call-taker Susan Gifford to contact his parents. Gifford remained on the line with his father as he searched for Elijah. Thanks to these efforts, Elijah soon was reunited with his family. “Elijah is a very smart, level-headed and courteous young man who provided excellent information about his location, which aided in his return,” says Taylor. “I commend him for his quick thinking and making the smart decision to call for help.”

Names: Shanteria White and Tyqierra Hines
Ages at the Time of the Incident: 11 and 9, respectively
9-1-1 Center: Tifton-Tift County E-911 and Emergency Management Agency
Call-taker: Sonja Parrish

Shanteria White demonstrated extreme presence of mind when she called 9-1-1 on March 15, 2007, after her mother passed out. She answered all of Call-taker Sonja Parrish’s questions about her mother’s condition and carefully relayed medical instructions to her sister, Tyqierra Hines, who followed them exactly until help arrived. “These girls acted quickly and as a team to get their mother the help that she needed,” says Parrish.

Name: Paige Hood
Age at the Time of the Incident: 12
9-1-1 Center: Covington-Newton County 9-1-1 Communications
Call-taker: Laurel Roysden

Paige Hood was at home with her grandmother on December 19, 2007, when she realized that something was wrong. Knowing that her grandmother had recently been hospitalized, Paige immediately dialed 9-1-1 to get help. She conveyed all of the necessary information to Call-taker Laurel Roysden and stayed on the line until first responders arrived. Thanks to Paige’s actions, her grandmother was transported to the hospital and continues to have a successful recovery.

Name: Wendy “Nicole” Jordan
Age at the Time of the Incident: 9
9-1-1 Center: Madison County 9-1-1 Center
Call-taker: Josh Smith

When Nicole Jordan spotted smoke billowing from her uncle’s truck, which was parked by her home, on June 20, 2007, she rushed inside and alerted him. By that time, the truck was ablaze, and he shouted for Nicole to call 9-1-1. Fortunately, Nicole had learned about calling 9-1-1 at Danielsville Elementary School, and had even practiced writing her address and reciting it before the class. This assignment certainly paid off, as Nicole calmly and deliberately relayed the nature of the emergency to Call-taker Josh Smith and accurately provided her address. Smith, a captain with the Hull Volunteer Fire Department, immediately grasped the urgency of the situation and help arrived minutes later. Although her uncle’s truck was lost, if Nicole had not acted when she did, the fire could have spread to her home.

Names: Karlee House and Maddox Lewallen
Ages at the Time of the Incident: 7 and 8, respectively
9-1-1 Center: Habersham County 9-1-1
Call-taker: Jennifer Moulder

The quick actions of Karlee House and Maddox Lewallen on June 26, 2007, saved Karlee’s little brother, Taylor, from drowning. The children were playing in the pool at their apartment complex when they noticed 3-year-old Taylor lying at the bottom of the shallow end. Karlee and Maddox worked as a team to pull him out of the pool, and then Maddox ran to the apartment’s office to notify personnel of the situation while their babysitter called 9-1-1. Tyler spent several days at the hospital, but thanks to Karlee and Maddox’s swift actions, he did not suffer any permanent injury.

Name: Robert James Kent
Age at the Time of the Incident: 11
9-1-1 Center: Madison County 9-1-1 Center
Call-taker: Lynn Nix

Robert James Kent called 9-1-1 on April 29, 2006, asking Dispatcher Lynn Nix to “please hurry” after his grandmother, Dorothy Kent, experienced difficulty breathing. Though obviously frightened, Robert remained as calm as possible, answering all of Nix’s questions and keeping her appraised of his grandmother’s condition until first responders arrived. Ms. Kent was transported to the hospital, where she was treated for a heart attack. Sadly, about three months after she was released from the hospital, Ms. Kent suffered another heart attack, and unfortunately, despite the same efforts by Robert and emergency responders, she did not survive. However, before her death, Ms. Kent expressed her appreciation for her quick-thinking grandson, calling him “my little hero.”

Name: Dixie Marie Sims
Age at the Time of the Incident: 10
9-1-1 Center: Madison County 9-1-1 Center
Call-taker: Renee Epps

An evening of stargazing on May 29, 2007, came to an abrupt halt for Dixie Sims and her friend when they went inside to turn off the lights to see the stars better and found Dixie’s mother lying on the couch, suffering from an apparent seizure. Although she was urged to call relatives, Dixie remembered the lessons she learned in school on how and when to use 9-1-1, and instead did what she had been taught. Although she was understandably upset, Dixie maintained her composure throughout the call and gave Call-taker Renee Epps all the information she needed to ensure a quick and proper response. As a result, Dixie’s mother was transported to the hospital, where she was treated for cardiac and seizure-related issues. Thanks to ongoing medical care, Ms. Sims is now leading a healthy life.
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