Local Agent Teaches Children How To Call 911

Paul Nicholson with a 911 simulator
Paul Nicholson knows firsthand the virtue of understanding how to call 911 and detriment to children who do not.
"When my son was six years old, I was having some work done at my house and I fell off a cement truck. I landed on my head and was out for hours," he recalls of the life-changing incident.
"My son had no clue how to call for help, and he was worried. 
Nicholson, an insurance agent in Eureka California, recovered fairly quickly from the head injury sustained from the fall, but emotional damage done to his son who could only witness helplessly, took a little longer. 
"I want to create an awareness (about calling 911)," Nicholson said. "It gives the kids power to tell them you're going to be okay."
He remembers an enlightening conversation with his son two months later, that revealed the anguish that the young boy had been grappling with over witnessing the traumatic event - and feeling powerless to help. He also wondered how and why his dad survived it.
"I told him: God said it's not my time and I've got things to do."
Within six months Nicholson attended a Red Cross seminar and was introduced to what would be one of his future drives in life.
"I saw a 911 simulator and said: 'What is that?'"
When the response came that it was a device that taught children how to call 911, "I said: 'I want one.'"
With that, he purchased the simulator with the help from other agents and started contacting local elementary schools to begin his life-saving efforts.
Soon after he was contacted by the risk manager for Humboldt County schools, Kimberly Comet.
"She said: "What are you doing? When I explained it, she said: "Will you do it for other schools?'"
"We have an excellent response. The parents love it and the kids are real responsive." 
The idea was then implemented that has grown into a program that requires four hours of Nicholson's time a week, every week, throughout the school year. He goes into as many Elementary schools in County that he can and gives detail demonstrations to all kindergarten through second grade students.
He discusses what 911 does, what happens when a call is made, what happens if they hang up, and lets the students have hands on practice at dialing it themselves.

 He also shows them his license plate.

"There was a six-year-old girl that called 911 from a cell phone and said, "My mom quit breathing I need help." However, Nicholson explains to the students she didn't know her address.
"The 911 operator asked her: 'Does your mom or own a car?'" The child was then able to read the letters and number off of the license plate and the operator was able to trace the address.
"I want to create an awareness," Nicholson said. "It gives the kids power to tell them you're going to be okay."
After his demonstration, he sends the kids home with a refrigerator magnet that includes a space for their parents to fill in their address so a child has something to refer to in the nerve-racking case of emergency.
Sue Harrison, Instructional Assistant, at Washington Elementary said the feedback from Nicholson's demonstration is always positive.
"We we have an excellent response. The parents love it and the kids are real responsive."
If it was up to Nicholson, no other child will stand in that the shoes his own son did in .
"My best day will be when a child will call 911 because I taught them," he said.
Seeing thousands of schoolchildren each year, Nicholson said: "If I helped one child one time that's the day I'm working for."

-Article originally appeared 4.5.2008 in The Eureka Reporter by Vivian Dunlap.

* All content of this site was developed by Paul Nicholson through his dedication to 911 education since 2001, no other person or company is responsible for this site content. All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided "as is" and Paul does not warranty the information provided nor does he assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein. Paul Nicholson is a retired insurance agent with over 39 years of experience.