It’s a scary thing to have an emergency worthy of calling 911, but it’s even more so when you’re only 10 years old.
On April 6, Eli Kehl came home to find his stepfather, Dan Nevius, having an allergic reaction, but he knew just what to do.
That’s why the Mid-America Regional Council’s Public Safety Communications Program and the Johnson County Emergency Communications Center honored him Wednesday morning as a “911 hero” at Spring Hill Elementary.
The program recognizes kids who, in calling 911 on their own, are able to save a life, stop a crime or reduce a property loss.
Initially, Nevius didn’t want Eli to call 911, because he thought he would be alright.
“I was worried, so … I dialed the number, and they asked me a bunch of questions,” Eli said. “They asked me the address, how old I was, what grade I was in, how was my dad ill,” Eli said. “I’ve never called 911 before. I wasn’t really ready for it.”
Dispatcher Grady Victory took the call and said that Eli was very calm in a stressful situation.
“My goal was to make sure he stayed that way, to make sure he didn’t become upset or frightened,” Victory said. “A lot of times when kids are calling for their parents, it gets them upset. He kept his cool, even when he checked on his father, he was able to keep answering my questions and talking to me.”
Eli didn’t remember his house number, which made things a little more difficult, but he was able to tell Victory the name of the street and answer all the other questions.
To help kids like Eli, Victory recommends that parents “help (kids) practice their address and their phone number. They should also have a card or paper that they keep near the phone … (so they can) read that off if they’re old enough to read.”
Eli said he thought the award was “pretty cool” but said that his own hero is his stepfather.
“I don’t remember much (of the experience), but I’m very proud of him,” Nevius said.
Eli’s mom, Michelle Nevius, said she was super impressed and very proud of Eli.
“I knew he could do something like this, but I never thought that he would have to,” she said.
Victory also was happy to see the ceremony.
“It’s not common for me to find out what the outcome is,” he said. “We deal with a large volume of calls. Once our crew gets on scene, that’s pretty much the last we know of what happened.”
If another emergency comes up, Eli is ready for it.
“I would do the exact same thing — call 911 and tell them all the stuff,” he said.