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Swayzee FD recognizes quick-thinking

QUICK THINKING: Amelia Mauldon receives a heroism award for her quick and resourceful thinking from Les Frost, Swayzee Volunteer Fire Department Fire Chief.Along with a plaque, Mauldon received a Swayzee Volunteer Fire Department t-shirt and a ride to and from school on a fire truck of her choice.

BY HEATHER COX - hcox@chronicle-tribune.com

SWAYZEE -- In response to a December house fire, a 10-year-old used quick thinking and took action in a way that may differ than most, catching the attention of the Swayzee Volunteer Fire Department.

On Dec. 5, when Amelia Mauldon of Swayzee got home from school with her younger brother Hoyt McClain, she opened the door to find her home full of smoke. Swayzee Fire Chief Les Frost said after calling out for her pets who did not come to her, Mauldon closed the front door and took her younger brother with her to the camper on her family’s property where she began reaching out for help.

Though she was without her cell phone, Mauldon did have her Chromebook (laptop) from school which she used to start emailing her friends, asking for help. One of her friends’ parents received the emails on her cell phone and was able to reach Mauldon’s mother, Sheryl McClain, and ultimately get the fire department to their home.

Mauldon’s father, Matt McClain, also returned home shortly after the kids.

“All I was really thinking was how I could get contact to my parents, and I realized I had my Chromebook that I could email my friends,” Mauldon said.

It’s Mauldon’s creative thinking that later got the attention of the Swayzee Volunteer Fire Department.

Because of her resourcefulness, the fire department recognized her at its business meeting Monday night. They gifted Mauldon with a “heroism award” plaque, a fire department t-shirt and an offer to take her to and from school on a fire truck of her choice on whatever day she chooses.

With a smile, Mauldon said she was very excited for the recognition and a chance to ride a truck to school.

In addition to reaching out for help with her Chromebook, Frost said they were impressed by the way Mauldon knew not to go inside for her pets, closed the front door before leaving and even used a blanket to keep her brother safe and warm in the camper.

He said he doesn’t know of anyone else who has used a device such as a Chromebook to reach out for help, but he could possibly see it happening more in the future since that’s how kids are raised now.

“We didn’t know about it initially, the mother posted something on Facebook and I was alerted to that by other people … (we were) more worried about figuring out cause of fire and once we heard what happened, we were very impressed by her quick thinking and actions,” Frost said.

Sheryl McClain said she’s very thankful they’re all okay and for the way everything played out.

“We’re just extremely proud of her, it’s unbelievable how she got a hold of a parent and called me at work - for that parent to even have my phone number - it just played out so well,” she said.

Frost said they later found that the family's Christmas tree had caught fire, but when a stand that held a 50 gallon fish tank next to the tree also caught fire, the tank broke and released water putting the fire out. The smoke Mauldon found upon returning home was a result of the fire’s smoldering that took place the rest of the day in a contained area.

That doesn’t happen very often, Frost added, but thankfully the fire was out and not too much damage was done to the house by the time the fire department arrived.

The family also reported that all of the pets are healthy and happily at home.