5-year-old's quick thinking got help for a hurt neighbor

Boy honored by county and school

April 22, 2007|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Reporter

Michael Cooper was playing in the front yard of his Bel Air home when he saw his neighbor fall from the roof. The 5-year-old ran into his house and told his mother to call 911.

Within minutes, paramedics arrived and found 49-year-old Donald Rembold, semiconscious and bleeding from a head injury. Information that Michael provided helped them establish that Rembold had fallen 10 feet while hanging Christmas decorations and landed head-first on the concrete driveway.

"The crew would not have known what happened without Michael's help," said Rhonda Polk, dispatcher at Harford's 911 Center. "The patient couldn't talk and Michael was the only witness."

Rembold, who was flown to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, is recuperating at home from the Dec. 18 injury.

For his efforts, Michael, a kindergartner at a Fountain Green Elementary School, was honored at a school assembly Friday before an audience of nearly 700 students, family and friends, including Rembold's wife, Judi, and daughter Becky.

"You would never expect a little guy to be so alert and to know what to do," said Judi Rembold, who recommended Michael for a hero's citation from the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Department. "Had he not been outside playing when this happened, my husband may not have been immediately found."

Michael shyly deflected the praise.

"I just ran inside to tell my mom to call 911," he said.

The incident shows how a child can be prepared for an emergency, said Ernest L. Crist, Harford's Emergency Services manager.

"This is just the kind of thing you want to talk about with your children," Crist said.

Michael, dressed in a long-sleeved, button-down shirt with a dapper striped tie, smiled throughout the brief ceremony and frequently nodded to his parents, Kathleen and Greg Cooper.

"He kept telling us he didn't want an award," Kathleen Cooper said. "It is all a little intimidating for him. I think he was more excited about wearing a tie today."

The boy graciously accepted several certificates, a plaque, two commemorative pins and a firefighter bobble-head.

"He certainly proved to all that he could act under pressure," said N. Roxanne Lynch, county spokeswoman. "He is a true hero."

mary.gail.hare@baltsun.com

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