AUGUSTA, GA (PR) – Safe Kids Greater Augusta presented Nick Ortalaza with a Badge of Courage Award for saving a child left alone in a hot vehicle on July 12 near Woodcrest Apartments in Hephzibah. Ortalaza noticed the boy, found a way into the vehicle, and quickly removed him from danger while his wife called 911.
“He stayed fairly calm during the situation,” said Christine Ortalaza. “We’re just glad we were there and that the little boy is OK.”
Ortalaza, who has two children of his own, said he’d do anything to help keep a child safe.
“About 30 to 40 children die each year in the U.S. from being left in a vehicle, but there’s one more survivor this year because of you,” Safe Kids Coordinator Rene Hopkins told Ortalaza during the presentation at Children’s Hospital of Georgia, lead agency for Safe Kids Greater Augusta.
“Heatstroke tragedies happen far too often and are completely preventable,” said Hopkins. “Bystanders like Nick are great role models for how community members can take action to prevent heatstroke and ultimately save a child’s life.”
With the support of the General Motors Foundation, Safe Kids Worldwide created Never Leave Your Child Alone in a Car as part of its Buckle Up program, a national initiative established in 1997 to keep children and families safe in and around motor vehicles. The Badge of Courage recognizes those who take action to save children’s lives.
Safe Kids Greater Augusta urges everyone to help protect kids by remembering to ACT:
· Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not in it so kids don’t get in on their own.
· Create reminders by putting something in the back of your car next to your child such as a briefcase, a purse or a cell phone that is needed at your final destination. This is especially important if you’re not following your normal routine.
· Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations. One call could save a life.
For more information on preventing child heatstroke deaths, visit www.safekids.org/heatstroke.
Safe Kids Greater Augusta, led by Children’s Hospital of Georgia, works to prevent accidental childhood injury, the leading killer of children ages 1 to 14. Safe Kids Greater Augusta is a member of the Safe Kids Worldwide network. To find out more about local Safe Kids programs, visit grhealth.org/safekids or call 706-721-7606.