Dispatchers, youths honored for 911 work

April 11, 2012 9:51:56 PM PDT
Two San Francisco emergency dispatchers were honored today at a City Hall ceremony that aimed to promote the responsible use of the 911 emergency line.

San Francisco's Department of Emergency Management and the nonprofit 9-1-1 for Kids presented three "Local 9-1-1 Heroes" awards before an audience of about 30 kindergarteners and city officials at an 11 a.m. ceremony on the mayor's balcony at City Hall that coincided with National Public Safety Telecommunications Week.

Kindergarteners from the Tenderloin Community School listened attentively as city emergency management Deputy Director Lisa Hoffmann praised dispatchers Justin Wong and Dawn Shaw for their work with child 911 callers.

She also lauded home-schooled Belques Abozaid, 14, whom she described as "calm and composed" when she made an emergency call on behalf of her mother.

Wong had picked up a call from Belques, who told him that her mom wasn't well and couldn't breathe. Her mother survived the incident.

Wong said sometimes children are better at handling 911 calls than adults, who tend to panic.

Shaw was honored for her work with a 9-year-old caller whose mother was having severe chest pain and trouble breathing. The girl, whose mother also survived, was not able to attend today's ceremony.

Supervisor Malia Cohen presented Belques with a plaque signed by the Board of Supervisors to recognize her leadership and heroism.

"Today and everyday you are a 911 hero," Cohen said.

Today was Belques' first visit to San Francisco City Hall, and she was accompanied by her father and two young brothers. She said she wants to be a doctor someday.

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