On August 20th, 9-1-1 For Kids hosted a special Hero Award Ceremony at the 2013 APCO Conference honoring Dispatcher Lucy Kruse from the Brea Police Department (CA) for a call she handled from Samantha Swisher (17yrs), who called 9-1-1 requesting paramedics for her father.
On August 18-21st, thousands of dispatchers and emergency communications personnel visited the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, CA, for the 2013 Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) Conference. APCO is a worldwide organization that provides professional development, expertise, and training to people who work in the field of emergency communications. The organization hosts an annual conference where people come to learn current training trends, see state-of-the-art technological advances, and meet peers to build their professional network. Several vendors attended the event to promote products/services.
9-1-1 For Kids is a non-profit organization that specializes in developing educational materials to help emergency communications personnel teach kids about the 9-1-1 Emergency System and other emergency preparedness tips. The organization also publicly recognizes children (17 years and younger) who properly use 9-1-1 to request emergency assistance and the dispatcher who handled the call to compliment their goal of public education and awareness. On August 20th, the organization asked Anaheim Police Communications to do an educational presentation about 9-1-1 for a group of 80 third-graders from a local elementary school. There was a special Hero Award Ceremony scheduled to immediately follow the educational presentation.
The crowd of 80 kids erupted with cheers and applause as the 9-1-1 Safety Mascots appeared. Smokey the Bear, Abby the Cell Phone, Red E. Fox, and McGruff the Crime Dog came out to teach kids emergency tips in using 9-1-1 correctly to help emergency services. The kids watched a short video called “How to Call 9-1-1 from a Cell Phone”, an animated movie created by 9-1-1 For Kids to stress the importance in properly using a cell phone to call 9-1-1. The kids were quizzed after the movie and then had photo opportunities with the Safety Mascots.
The Hero Award Ceremony started after the educational presentation and Dispatcher Lucy Kruse from the Brea Police Department (CA) and Miss Samantha Swisher were introduced as a “9-1-1 Heroes”. Earlier this summer, Swisher had to call 9-1-1 when her father collapsed after a running workout. Swisher describes her father as very athletic and fit, but she did not hesitate to jump into action when became unresponsive. Dispatcher Kruse answered Swisher’s 9-1-1 call. Dispatcher Kruse helped keep Swisher calm and gave her critical pre-arrival instructions to start chest compressions to help resuscitate her father. Brea Police Chief Jack Conklin personally congratulated Swisher and encouraged all the kids in the audience to learn about 9-1-1 and know how/when to use it properly because it might one day save their lives, or the life of someone they love. Mr. Chad Franks, a representative from the office of Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, and Anaheim City Mayor Tom Tait were also in attendance personally congratulated Swisher.
Swisher’s father has made a full recovery since the incident and was also in attendance at the awards ceremony. He proudly watched from the audience as her daughter was praised for her heroic actions during the most exigent of circumstances. Swisher has dreams to one day work as medic for the fire department. CBS 2 News was present and interviewed Swisher for a story (click here to view).