Young Heroes Celebrated
February 18, 2023
They drove long distances. They listened to redacted 911 calls that brought tears to their eyes. They applauded the heroes celebrated by Calgary, Alberta (Canada), emergency services for potentially life and property saving roles in which the honorees did not rehearse.
These heroes—and there were seven with the most senior recipient being 14 years old—accepted awards and acclaim for rendering calm, cooperative assistance and, in several calls, providing translation services for their parents during calls to 911. Each 911 hero was nominated by the emergency communications officer (ECO) who took their call.
Calgary 9-1-1 Deputy Chief Glenda Sahlen called the event inspiring and a fantastic day for everyone attending the event held in late September. “The pride of their parents was incredible and the heroes, they were every bit as sincere as you heard in their voices over the audio. They knew they were doing the right thing.”
The credit for their actions, she said, comes from the families. “We wish we could take more credit, but that credit stays at the home. No doubt about it.”
The awards are an annual event, though COVID-19 preempted the event during the past two years. The resurgence of celebrating young heroes had everyone excited, Sahlen said. It’s a way to connect to their community, and it reinforces the Calgary 9-1-1 slogan “We are everyone’s 911.”
The 35 years Sahlen has worked at Calgary 9-1-1 reinforces her early career goals to do something that makes a difference in people’s lives. This is the message the young hero's celebration conveys, she said. “They saved lives; they saved homes. They know since they’ve done this once, they can do it again.”
Below are their heroes’ stories1:
Hayley Tibeau, 13, ran to call 911 in response to a fire alarm in her neighborhood and the failure of anyone to come to the door of the home despite her knocking. Hayley took note of the address and provided critical information over the phone. The Calgary Fire Department arrived to find the alarm faulty.
Mohamad Kazmuoz, 10, reported the overnight theft of the family car. He provided details necessary to complete a stolen vehicle report and translated instructions to his parents regarding insurance and contacting police if they saw the vehicle prior to its recovery.
Reem Abo Sheffa, 14, reported damage to the family car following a hit-and-run accident in front of their home. Reem assisted in translating for her father, provided details about the vehicles involved, and relayed safety instructions to her family and bystanders.
Ben Donegan, 10, witnessed a rollover motor vehicle collision and called 911 while his mom, a nurse, attended to the people in the vehicle. Ben confirmed their location and gave critical information, including someone trapped in one of the vehicles and the excessive amount of motor fuel on the road.
Jaxon Erickson, 11, and Dylan Okeefe, 12, provided details of a grassfire, including the direction the fire was moving and the possibility of a person in the burning field needing help. They stayed on the line, as directed, to describe changes they witnessed on scene. Firefighters extinguished the flames and rescued the individual.
Ramiza Ahmed, 11, reported a motor vehicle collision involving her and her mother. Ramiza identified their location through geo-markers to accommodate dispatch of response and, also, helped translate the call between her mom and the emergency communications officer. According to the award, “Ramiza was very calm and was able to answer all questions including vehicle details and whether anyone had injuries.”
Awards were presented by the nominating emergency communications officer, Calgary 9-1-1 Chief Susan Henry and Deputy Chief Sahlen, Rocky View Fire Services Chief Randy Smith, and Chestermere Fire Department Deputy Chief Brent Paquette.
Calgary 9-1-1 dispatches 911 emergency and non-emergency calls for its partner agencies, which include Calgary Police Service and Calgary Fire Department, and it’s the PSAP and fire call evaluation and dispatch center for Rocky View County, M.D. of Bighorn, and seven additional communities.
1. “Calgary 9-1-1 celebrates young heroes.” The City of Calgary Newsroom. 2022; Sept. 23. https://newsroom.calgary.ca/911-heroes-2022/ (accessed Oct. 25, 2022).