The Wireless Foundation held its 2012 Achievement Awards Dinner last night at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C. It was a fantastic event as we heard a number of inspiring stories from people all over the country who used wireless technology to help others.
In addition, Rep. Anna Eshoo of California and Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois received Wireless Achievement Awards for their work in Congress promoting sound wireless policy.
Altogether we had nine honorees receiving VITA™ Wireless Samaritans for using wireless technology to save lives, stop crime and help in other emergency situations. VITA honorees are chosen annually to recognize outstanding citizens who put safety first and use wireless to help others in need. The awards also reinforce the crucial role wireless technology plays in emergencies as more than 400,000 wireless phone calls made to 911 every day.
We like to interview each award winner to hear a first-hand account of their situation, and over the course of the next year we’ll feature those interviews on monthly installments of our Wonder of Wireless webcast. In the meantime, here’s a brief description of what happened with each of our honorees:
- Holland, Michigan: 5-year-old Jordan Poulin was playing on the family’s computer when her mother suddenly collapsed into a seizure. She grabbed her mother’s cellphone to call 911 and provided first responders with important information so they could quickly locate the house and aid her mom. At the same time, Poulin kept her 5-month-old brother calm throughout the situation.
- Canton, Ohio: While waiting one morning at their school bus stop, David Beckley, Jr. and Tyler Creswell, both 13 years old, saw flames from a neighbor’s porch that began to engulf the house. Without hesitation, Beckley used his cellphone to call 911. The boys rushed to the back door of the house and tried to break the glass to unlock the door, but failed. That’s when they began kicking the back door until the residents emerged. As firefighters were arriving, the boys ran back to their bus stop and caught their bus in time for school.
- College Park, Maryland: Computer science professor Dr. Ashok Agrawala of the University of Maryland at College Park created a virtual campus safety app to help students travel safely at night. The “Escort-M” app provides audio, video and location information from a University of Maryland user’s wireless device to public safety personnel so that in an emergency, dispatchers will know the individual’s real-time location, audio and video to ascertain the situation. Employees at the university’s Security Operations Center, which already monitors the campus’ surveillance cameras, will monitor Escort-M feeds this fall from students requesting a virtual escort.
- Austin, Texas: After a routine day, Allison Motto’s husband was watching TV with his wife on their couch when his posture suddenly became rigid and he began to breathe heavily. Thirty seconds later, she realized her husband had fainted and stopped breathing. She used her cellphone to call 911. The dispatcher instructed and helped her to time 100 chest compressions to keep blood pumping through her husband’s body before emergency personnel arrived and were able to shock his heart into a normal rhythm. Motto’s quick action helped prevent Brian from suffering brain damage or possibly from dieing due to cardiac arrest.
- Harrisburg, Illinois: David Murphy was working his early morning shift at a retail store when a deadly tornado (EF-4) directly landed in Harrisburg. A donut delivery driver and his truck were lifted out of the store’s loading dock and thrown into a nearby pond. Several people called 911, but local emergency responders were overwhelmed by the devastation caused by the tornado and were unable to assist. Ignoring the danger to his own safety, Murphy used his cellphone’s light to find the injured and barely conscious truck driver. Murphy, along with a few others, carefully placed the man onto a pallet and drove him to a nearby hospital.
- Lake Oswego, Oregon: Chris O’Neill was driving on North Shore Road when he came upon an SUV teetering over an embankment above Oswego Lake. Alarmed, he stopped and used his cellphone to dial 911. Michelle Prats, the driver of the car, told him her 4-year-old son, Seve, was still strapped in the SUV’s backseat. O’Neill handed Michelle his cellphone and crawled into the vehicle to safely deliver Seve to his mother.
- Pompano Beach, Florida: Home with only her 10-year-old brother, Alexis Stannis chose to ignore the unexpected knock on her front door. When she heard someone trying to break in through a window, she grabbed her brother and a cellphone, locked her bedroom door, hid in the closet and called 911. When the police arrived at the house, three teens, including one armed with a knife, were arrested and linked to another burglary in the neighborhood.
- Gardner, Kansas: While on his normal pre-dawn commute to work, Clarence Williams witnessed a car slam into the back of a tractor-trailer, removing its roof and driver’s door as it careened off the road and launched debris in the air. After swerving to miss the wreckage on the road, Williams pulled his car over to use his cellphone to call 911 and give dispatchers the location. While he was examining the vehicle, Williams discovered a pregnant woman bleeding and unconscious in her damaged car. Williams informed the dispatchers of the situation and stayed with the woman until emergency personnel arrived to transport her to a hospital where she delivered her daughter. Due to the severity of her injuries, the mother slipped into a coma for nearly one month, but is now on the road to recovery.