I have been stressing fire and life safety through this column for quite some time now. With apologies to the caveman commercials, I titled this column “Fire safety - It's so simple a child can do it!” I do not mean to imply that a comprehensive safety plan is an easy thing to do. What I have found is three great examples of three very young children who acted appropriately in a stressful situation and are heroes - at least in my book!
My first hero is a 12-year-old boy named Kenneth, who was at home in his bedroom one afternoon. His baby sister was napping in her bedroom and his mother left some food cooking on the stove and stepped out of the house. (The mother is NOT a hero of mine.) Kenneth heard the smoke alarm sound, as smoke was filling his house. He turned off the burner to the stove, grabbed his younger sister and ran to their neighbor's house. He was outside the home, tears filling his eyes, as fire units arrived at the smoke-filled house. He had to be thinking he lost his mother, but she showed up a bit later and the family was reunited.
My second hero is a 9-year-old boy named Tristin, who was at his grandmother's house with his 2-year-old sister. When he couldn't find her, he checked outside in the pool. After seeing his sister in the pool, he pulled her out and began performing CPR to try to save his sister's life. After a few minutes, she began to breathe on her own. Young Tristin told responding firefighter/paramedics that he learned the CPR techniques from a television show.
My final hero is from New Hampshire, and this incident just happened in July. Ten-year-old Dylan was playing at home when he noticed his younger brother's lips start to turn blue and he appeared to be in great distress. He couldn't breathe because he had put a marble in his mouth, which blocked his airway. Dylan's father is a firefighter, and he taught Dylan how to perform the Heimlich maneuver. Without delay, he jumped into action and the marble came shooting out of his brother's mouth.
I am quite sure there are many youngsters out there who would also make my hero list should the opportunity arise. We need to take the time to go over emergency actions with our families when the opportunity arises. It may be after a television show or movie that shows an emergency situation, a real- life family emergency or an emergency that strikes a family member or friend. It may not even be related to a real emergency; it can be practiced because it is important. Plan ahead what numbers need to be called to initiate the emergency services here in Livonia, how to contact family and neighbors to get immediate needs taken care of, and where you can sign up for a first aid and/or CPR class.
Tom Kiurski is training coordinator for the Livonia Fire Department.