Even a little knowledge about how to react in an emergency can save a life.
Just ask 11-year-old Owen Dodman, who is credited for saving his younger sister from choking.
Last January, Owen, and his younger siblings, Eric, 9, and Ruby 6, where playing upstairs, while their parents were down in the basement of their children Chatham.
When Eric started screaming, “Ruby, Ruby, Ruby,” Amy Dodman immediately knew something was seriously wrong.
“It's that tone of voice that a parent never wants to hear,” she said. “He was terrified.”
As she and her husband, Jed, came flying upstairs, Owen had already stepped in to save the day by performing the Heimlich manoeuvre, dislodging a marble Ruby was choking on.
Owen is one of four local young people recognized with a Hero Award on Monday, during the fifth annual Safety Awards, presented by the Chatham-Kent Children's Safety Village.
The Grade 6 student at St. Ursula Catholic School in Chatham said he learned the Heimlich manoeuvre through Scouts and seeing it on TV.
Initially, Owen wasn't sure what was going on with his sister.
“At first, I thought she was going to get sick, so I got one of our 'sick bowls' we call them,” he said.
But when Ruby pointed at her throat, he realized she was choking so he took action.
Eric, a Grade 4 student at St. Ursula, received one of the Outstanding Safety Awards for his quick action.
When asked how he realized his sister was in trouble, he said: “She had been talking a lot and all of sudden she's not talking.”
Eric wondered what was going on then he noticed she was choking, so he began yelling her name.
Amy Dodman got a little emotional recalling that day.
“I was proud of what the boys had done . . . and scared after the fact,” she said.
Rudy said she was “happy” that her brothers helped her.
She also doesn't play with marbles any more.
Grant Bray, 15, and his sister Jaime, 16, also teamed up to help save their mother, Mary, who was having a heart attack last October.
The two Ursuline College Chatham students just happened to be home after school when Mary's heart stopped.
Grant said, “I thought she was crying at first,” as his mother gasped for breath.
“Seeing that there was something wrong, I started trying to get her to respond and she didn't, so I yelled for my sister Jaime,” the Grade 9 student said.
Together they began performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation with Grant doing chest compressions and Jaime doing the breaths.
“Honestly, I wasn't calm,” Jaime admits. “I was screaming, I was really scared.”
Grant said he learned CPR from his parents, noting his mother is a nurse and his father, Brian, also received CPR training through his job.
Mary Bray said she doesn't remember anything of the order, but noted, “I'm thankful that it happened at that time when they came home.”
Grant said, “I feel honoured to receive this.”
Jaime, who is in Grade 11, said she is “very, very honoured,” adding she is confident she could handle another medical emergency.
Ashley Herfst, 16, a Grade 10 student at John McGregor Secondary School, received a Hero Award for quickly dousing a fire at her home last fall.
Her sister Jessica, 18, who also attends JMSS, nominated Ashley for the award.
Jessica recalled inadvertently leaving a stove burner on with an oven mitt nearby as she went upstairs to lie down. While she was sleeping, Ashley came home to a smoke-filled home.
“I freaked out as soon as I got home,” Ashley said. “I was like, 'Oh my gosh, where is this smoke coming from?'”
When found the source, she took the burning oven mitt and put it under the tap. But, part of it was so hot it went on the carpet and caught fire there. So she took off her sweater and stomped on the fire try to smother it, then she threw the carpet outside.
Jessica said she can't thank her sister enough for what she did and what she prevented with her actions.
Ashley said she's honoured with the award and just glad she arrived home at the right time.
Shayanne Drewery and Amy Wilcox, students at Blenheim District High School, along with Todd Hamaguchi, a Chatham-Kent Secondary School student, received Outstanding Safety Awards for their anti-bullying efforts and being role models for other students.
Grant Spence and Colton Shoemaker, Grade 7 students at Gregory Drive Public School in Chatham, were both recognized with an Act of Good Citizenship Award for their dedication as safety patrollers.
Barb Lovell, safety village executive director, said these stories of heroism and other acts of safety provide “absolute validation” of the work the safety village is doing.
“Validation that through prevention we can help educate and train the local youth to help save lives,” she added.
“So many people are quick to discredit children and we're here to say that children should be celebrated, because they're saving lives right her in our community,” Lovell said.