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Teaching a child about 911 a valuable lesson

It may be one of the easiest things you ever teach your child. And it could very well be one of the most important.

We're talking about the ability to make a 911 call in the event of an emergency.

Learning how to push three numbers on a phone and calmly provide the necessary information -- name, address and a description of what is going on -- does not require lengthy explanations or hours of rote practice. But it is lesson that needs to be taught to every child, so that he or she can feel comfortable making the call should the situation demand it.

It's a point that was driven home recently when 7-year-old Nicole Saoud, a Nutter Fort Elementary student, was able to call the 911 center on the instruction of her mother, Jennifer, who was trying to save her son's life.

Isaac Saoud, 11, had accidentally swallowed a ping-pong-sized ball and gotten it lodged in his throat.

His mother, desperately attempting to get the ball loose, told Nicole to call 911. She did, and according to the dispatcher who took the call, the little girl was able to provide the needed information and a "play-by-play" of what was happening.

Before an ambulance could arrive, Dr. Alan Saoud, the boy's father, arrived home and was able to dislodge the ball. The family is doing fine.

What's important about this story is the fact that Nicole had the know-how to make the emergency call. As Fred Smart, chief of Harrison County Bureau of Emergency Services, noted, children can sometimes be better than adults in such traumatic situations. According to Smart, "they often don't understand the gravity of what is going on and are not as fearful."

Teaching a child to dial 911 is not a complicated matter. But simply having the foresight to instill its importance in a son a daughter could make all the difference in the world.

Today's editorial reflects the opinion of the Exponent editorial board, which is comprised of James G. Logue, Kevin S. Courtney, Patrick M. Martin, Matt Harvey and J. Cecil Jarvis.