Helke Elementary first grader Zachary Page shows off the Vandalia Civilian Medal of Honor that was presented to him by Fire Chief Chad Follick (left) for an act of heroism when his grandmother fell down stairs last December. Page is also being honored in the City of Vandalia with Zachary Page Day on Tuesday, Feb. 5.
VANDALIA — The Passport to Safety has been teaching children about fire and emergency safety for nearly three decades, and that training paid off just before last Christmas when Zach Page, a first grader at Helke Elementary School, called 911 after his grandmother fell down the stairs. As a result of Page’s calm demeanor and ability to give accurate information to first responders, his grandmother was able to be treated immediately. Now Zach himself is being honored after a Proclamation by Vandalia Mayor Arlene Setzer declared tomorrow, Tuesday, February 5, as Zachary Page Day. The Proclamation was read to Page at an assembly at Helke on Monday morning where police and fire personnel from the Vandalia Division of Police, Vandalia Fire Department, and the Butler Township Fire Department reviewed some of the valuable lessons learned in Passport to Safety. Page was also honored with the Vandalia Civilian Medal of Honor and a t-shirt from the fire department. “This sounded like a pretty serious medical emergency when I was reading the dispatch in my car and you wonder sometimes when kids call how serious the situation is,” said Vandalia Fire Chief Chad Follick. “When we got there, he met me in the driveway, was very articulate of what was going on, explained his grandmother’s situation in detail, and answered questions from me and the ambulance crew, and led us right to his grandmother. That young man is a real hero and did things as he has been taught.” Asked about that day, Page demonstrated the same calm, cool demeanor that he was honored for. “I was real scared,” said Page, the son of Stephanie Page. “I was watching my cartoons and my grandmother fell down the bottom two steps. When I turned the volume down I heard her say ‘Help! Help! Help!’ and I ran down the stairs to see what it was. When I saw her I told her I was calling 911. I called 911 and she was so proud of me.” Page credited the Passport to Safety program that he attended as a kindergartner with helping him know what to do in an emergency. Each year all incoming kindergarten students in the Vandalia-Butler schools and at St. Christopher School go through the program. “This speaks to the program (Passport to Safety),” said Follick. “It is one of the ones we are most proud of. As you saw the kids know the answers to what they are supposed to do in an emergency. In a stressful situation like what Zachary was in that will come back to them like muscle memory. If you could hear the tape it’s amazing, he sounds like an adult on the phone. It was amazing stuff.”