Young heroes honored at 911 VIP awards

Young heroes honored at 911 VIP awards

SALISBURY, Md. - The young heroes of Wicomico County were honored in the second annual 9-1-1 VIP awards ceremony in Salisbury Wednesday evening.  The ceremony recognizes kids 13 and under who provided assistance under extraordinary circumstances.

The award ceremony was part of the Wicomico County 9-1-1 VIP program, led by Monica Dietz, training coordinator for the department of emergency services.  The program is taught to second graders across the county to educate them on how, when and why to call 9-1-1.

Two children honored included Javon Purnell, 13, and Antonio Johnson, 14, both of Salisbury Middle School.

On a walk down the street from Antonio's grandparents house, and saw an elderly man who asked if they could take him to the hospital.  Antonio signaled for their guidance councilor, Coach Allen Mitchell, who gave Javon the O.K. to give 9-1-1 a call.  Purnell and Johnson stayed with the man as the ambulance arrived.

They credit their grandparents, who inspired them to help any in need.

"I was just walking down and the person that I am, I couldn't just say, 'no, I'm not going to help you to the hospital.'  That would just make me feel bad inside, so I had to help him," said Purnell.

Dietz says this is a great event to help honor the kids in the community who do the right thing when they are faced with extraordinary circumstances.

"Kids in our county, anywhere really, they're not being celebrated for enough good things.  So we wanted to really recognize those kids that went above and beyond with their 9-1-1 calls, just to let them know that it wasn't just a random phone call.  This did make a difference in somebody's life and we wanted to bring them together and really honor them and celebrate them for that."

For more information on the 9-1-1 education program, email Monica Dietz at

"It really teaches them what we expect if they have that emergency, so that they are not scared if they do have to call," said Dietz.  "Fire prevention does great things, it teaches them stop drop and roll.  It doesn't teach them what to expect if they actually have to dial the phone."

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