By Chevon T. Baccus APR
Executive Editor 

Polk County Fire Rescue Praises Spook Hill Elementary Student for 9-1-1 Call


Last updated 11/18/2020 at 12:55pm

Chevon Baccus

Spook Hill First Grader Esperanza Lopez poses with Sparky the Fire Dog, McGruff the Crime Dog, emergency dispatchers and her mother, Angela Lopez (second from right)

Fortunately for Angela Lopez, her 6-year-old daughter Esperanza knew to call 9-1-1 in an emergency. On Oct. 21 Lopez fell at her Frostproof home and couldn't get up or call for help.

When Esperanza couldn't find anyone to help, she retrieved her mother's phone and called 9-1-1.

Polk County Fire Rescue personnel on Nov. 18 honored the Spook Hill Elementary first-grader, designating her a "9-1-1 hero."

Fire Rescue public educator Rosa LaLonde used the special recognition event as an opportunity to teach about 50 first graders how to call for help in an emergency.

"9-1-1," the children called out repeatedly when LaLonde asked them the special number to call for "people emergencies."

Chevon Baccus

Polk County Fire Rescue personnel help recognize 9-1-1 Hero Esperanza Lopez and teach first graders how to call 9-1-1 in an emergency

LaLonde introduced a contingent of dispatchers, emergency medical technicians and firefighters, on hand with a fire truck and the Sparky the Dog, a costumed mascot. McGruff the Crime Dog also attended the event. LaLonde told the children to only call in a real emergency so the dispatchers could send "the right truck to the right place, right now."

"Esperanza was very brave, kept calm and did the right thing," said Spook Hill Principal Chabre Timmons. "We are so proud of her, and hope others learn what to do if they are ever in an emergency."

Esperanza's teacher Lavinia Parido said she discussed at the beginning of the school year how to call 9-1-1 for help in an emergency. She called Esperanza a "sweet girl."

LaLonde encouraged the children to learn their addresses and to be able to answer a dispatcher's question about the color of their house and what color cars were parked outside.

"We never call for a joke," LaLonde said, pointing to the rescue personnel. "Their job is to help people in a real emergency."


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