To celebrate Wireless Safety Week earlier this month, The Wireless Foundation held its 17th Annual Achievement Awards Dinner at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. The VITA™ Wireless Samaritan Awards are presented annually to recognize Americans who used wireless technology to save lives, stop crime and help in other emergency situations. Recipients are the epitome of good Samaritans who put safety first and use wireless to help those in need. With more than 300,000 wireless phone calls made to 911 every day, the awards also reinforce the crucial role wireless technology plays in emergencies. There were nine VITA Wireless Samaritan Award recipients from across the nation; their stories are below.
National Portrait Gallery
The event included Wireless Achievement Awards given to Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler and North Carolina Senator Richard Burr. We also recognized Chief Technology Officer of the United States Aneesh Chopra with the Industry Achievement Award for Outstanding Leadership.
Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler
North Carolina Senator Richard Burr
Here are the nine individuals from across the country who received the VITA Wireless Samaritan Award to recognize their use of wireless technology to save lives, stop crime or help in other emergency situations.
One VITA recipient was cellphone inventor Marty Cooper, who won the award for using a cellphone to save his friend trapped in a skiing accident. Due to his role as an inventor of the cellphone, Marty spoke for a few minutes.
Here are the nine honorees and their stories:
- Del Mar, California: Cellphone inventor Marty Cooper’s friend, Masami Yamamoto, was supposed to meet up with him after a ski run in Colorado, but never arrived. Marty called his friend’s cellphone and learned that Masami had skied off the trail onto a narrow ledge that was above a several-hundred-foot drop. Over the next 90 minutes, Marty coordinated with Masami and the Vail Dispatch Center to determine the exact location so the rescue team could safely retrieve his friend.
- San Ramon Valley, California: When San Ramon Fire Chief Richard Price was having lunch with his fire department colleagues, he was surprised to see a fire truck and emergency personnel responding to an emergency nearby. Even though he and his team were trained in first aid, they were unaware of a medical emergency taking place next door. This led Chief Price and his department to develop an innovative free app, “Fire Department,” to alert first aid trained citizens to emergencies that are nearby. Due to the tremendous interest in the app, the San Ramon Fire Department is establishing a foundation to assist other fire departments around the world to create similar apps using open source software.
- Mims, Florida: 11-year old Layne and his Little League Baseball teammate, 12-year old Brendan Maher, were getting help with batting practice from Tony Cayton, Layne’s father when he collapsed on home plate. The two boys raced to Tony’s side, dialed 911 on his cellphone and administered CPR. An off-duty EMT and another player’s mother gave first aid until the paramedics arrived. Doctors confirmed that Tony’s heart had stopped, but that the immediate assistance and the quick thinking of Layne and Brendan were crucial in his recovery.
- Ontario, California: During a high school basketball game, Eric Cooper experienced a nightmarish situation for a coach: a player had collapsed on the court and was unresponsive. Fortunately, only a few days before the incident, he downloaded an app on his smartphone to help him brush up on first aid. Coach Cooper and his assistant coach used the knowledge he’d received from the app to administer CPR and revived the student.
- Oak Ridge, NC: When Amber Engel went into labor at her home on Valentine’s Day, she and her husband, Jeremy, immediately rushed to the hospital. On their way, they became snarled in rush hour traffic as Amber’s labor was progressing rapidly. When it became clear that the baby was going to arrive before they reached the hospital, they pulled over and Jeremy dialed 911 and received real-time medical assistance to safely deliver their baby. Shortly after, first responders, including firefighters, police and paramedics arrived on the scene.
- Cape Coral, Florida: Joey LaMountain was kayaking on the Orange River near the Manatee Park in Fort Myers when he noticed a manatee’s flipper was ensnared in a crab trap buoy. Joey used his cellphone to call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission’s (FWC) emergency hotline, take photos and give directions to his remote location. The manatee was rescued and taken to Tampa’s Lawry Zoo where it recovered before being released back into the wild. Florida FWC officials noted the rescue was especially important this year due to a record number of deaths of endangered manatees brought on by unusually cold weather.
- Federal Way, Washington: LaJohnna Greenwood signed up to receive AMBER alerts on her cellphone, but she never thought she would help in rescuing an abducted child. While working as a store clerk, LaJohnna noticed a man with a girl who matched the description of an AMBER alert and called police. Although the man and girl had left by the time police arrived, officers used the store’s surveillance tapes and credit card records to locate and arrest the kidnapper. Officers discovered that he had been lurking around the playground at a nearby elementary school in recent weeks, talking to children and taking their pictures. Thanks to LaJohnna, he is in jail and the girl has been returned to her family.