She made the call, and help was quick
When a Williamsboro area mom passed out about a month ago, her hopes for a call for emergency responders suddenly rested on the shoulders of her 9-year-old daughter.
And, “she was right there for me,” said Shanika Nelson.
Her daughter, Aisha Lewis, quickly grabbed her mother’s cellphone and punched in 911.
“I passed out and I don’t remember anything,” Nelson said. “I just remember getting up to use the bathroom. When I fell, I hit my head.”
Lewis, a student at Henderson Collegiate, said she was not feeling fear about getting help from 911. She knew it was the right thing to do.
“I felt like I was safe, and that if I felt like my mom needed help, I could call them,” she said. “The rest of my family had gone to sleep and I didn’t know who else to call.
“The lady that was talking to me sounded very calm,” Lewis added. “She was very nice and very helpful.”
Nelson said her family talked to Aisha about the right way of using 911, and she was glad to hear about how well her daughter did in following the instructions of the 911 telecommunicator.
“I think she was a brave, brave little girl,” Nelson said. “Nothing like that had happened to her before, and from what I understand she followed all of the 911 instructions very well. She has always been smart. We taught her from an early age, and she did it.”
Leaders of the Henderson-Vance County Emergency Operations Center say there is a correct way to use 911.
According to Angelia Alston, the training supervisor, there is a year-round effort to inform the public, children especially, about dialing 911.
“We teach young children the importance of dialing 911 in an emergency and the importance of not dialing 911 when it is not an emergency,” Alston said. “We express the importance of knowing their address and phone number. Every phone call has to be confirmed.”
Even though the service has capabilities of mapping where calls come from, confirming the information is a key first step in the communication process.
“If it is a hang-up call, the telecommunmicator will call back,” Alston said.
Brian Short, the director of emergency operations in Vance County, said the operations center office occasionally hosts youth groups ranging in age from very young children with Head Start to school-age students with Vance-Granville Community College School of Excellence.
“We have school groups visiting from time to time, Boy Scouts troops and others,” Short said. “We try to arrange the visits for when Angelia is here so she can speak to them.”
In Alston’s teaching material to children, points include:
• In an emergency, getting help as quickly as possible is important.
• Telecommunicators answer the call and need the caller’s name, a description of what happened and where.
• As trusted strangers, it is okay to give personal information, address and telephone number.
• Do not panic or hang up.
• Listen for instructions and answer the telecommunicator’s questions so they can send the right kind of help.
• The 911 system is only for emergencies: someone is hurt, very sick or in danger.
• Telecommunicators are always on duty to help with emergencies.
• In an emergency, don’t wait to see what happens because every second counts.
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