Kids in San Francisco honored for saving lives by dialing 911

April 10, 2013 7:37:59 PM PDT
Some very young heroes were honored at San Francisco City Hall Wednesday. They're children who helped save their parents' lives by dialing 911 in a crisis.

San Francisco's 911 dispatchers respond to more than a million emergency calls every year. But most are not like this.

Tala: "Mama, mama? Are you breathing? A little bit, just a little."
Dispatcher: "You're doing a good job, okay."

That was 10-year-old Tala Rahal on the line. She managed to be brave enough to help her mom through a scary situation.

In a small ceremony at City Hall Wednesday, Tala and 911 dispatcher Edgar Velasco were hailed as heroes for how both handled the emergency.

"I knew it would be okay because 911 always helps," Tala said.

This week San Francisco celebrates all of these behind the scenes professionals. And their colleagues selected a few for special honors, including those who showed compassion and skill when dealing with kids in crisis.

"When kids call they answer the questions that you actually ask, whereas adults really don't, they want to tell you the whole story," 911 dispatcher Kimberly Tuyay said. Tuyay was the reassuring voice who helped Kieontay Brown.

Kieontay: "I don't know what happened but just, like, the ceiling just collapsed on her."
Dispatcher: "Are you with your mom right now?"
Kieontay: "Yeah."

The 12-year-old and his 4-month-old baby brother were the only ones home when his mother was injured last year. Kieontay says he knew to call 911, "I would like to thank Kim for picking up my call," he said. "And I just thank God my mom is here today."

Dispatchers say 75 percent of all 911 calls now come in by cellphone. So officials say it is important to have them charged up, ready to go, and to teach your kids how to use them.


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