Fire Department honors its own and 2 brave kids

Siblings recognized at ceremony for aiding their grandmother


She's only 6, but she knew something wasn't right. Nicole Flegel saw that her grandmother wasn't moving, so she called her big brother over to take a look.

Eight-year-old Kyle knew to call 911.

Yesterday, Eugenia Mancini, who had spent five weeks in the hospital for treatment of her heart ailment, recalled how her "intelligent" grandchildren saved her. For keeping their calm, and for their bravery, the children also received an honor from the county Fire Department.

Nicole and Kyle each received a Citizen's Certificate. The presentation was made last night at the department's annual ceremony marking promotions and commendations.

Four firemen were honored with the Bronze Star, the third-highest award in a department. Fire Specialist Kelly L. Weiss and firefighter Louis A. Dixon Jr. of Dundalk Station No. 6 rescued an unconscious woman from a burning rowhouse in October. Fire Specialists Jeffrey Bowen and Bryan Hardesty of Essex Station No. 7 earned the honor for rescuing a 1-year-old and attempting to rescue a 13-year-old from a rowhouse.

More than 50 members of the department have been promoted, including two fire directors who fire officials say are the first African-Americans promoted to upper-level management.

The certificates the children received weren't their first recognition of thanks. Their 76-year-old grandmother awarded them her "snowbaby" collection of figurines.

"They used to love to see it. It was something that was special to them. And I wanted them to have something from me," Mancini said.

Mancini, along with her daughter, Christina Mancini-Flegal, relayed the youngsters' descriptions of how they saved the woman in October at their Fullerton home.

Mancini had suffered a heart attack six months earlier. She was watching Kyle and Nicole after they had been brought home from school.

Nicole later found her grandmother, a magazine in her lap, sitting very still. Nicole thought she was sleeping but called her brother. Kyle walked from the television and tried talking to his grandmother, but she did not answer. He immediately told his sister to call 911.

Following the 911 operator's instructions, Kyle felt for his grandmother's heartbeat -- and found a pace too quick to be considered normal. The operator asked the children to stay on the line and be brave, and told them help was on the way.

Nicole adjusted her grandmother's glasses because she didn't want the firefighters to see them crooked.

Later, Mancini said, she found out that she had developed a heart arrhythmia.

Mancini-Flegal said her children were nervous about being invited to the awards ceremony, but they were excited about being recognized. Nicole said she believes she and her brother did "a really good thing" for their grandmother. Kyle said it's a "privilege" to be honored. Of the incident, he said, "It wasn't time for her to go."

Mancini-Flegal said she was proud of her children's poise.

"I don't walk around and brag about it, but I know some adults that would freeze up in the situation," she said. "I agree with my mother. Even without all this, this is something they will remember for the rest of their lives."

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