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Michael Farnham, 14, honored for action in emergency situation

Date: 3/15/2010

March 15, 2010

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

WILBRAHAM - Fire Chief Fran Nothe said that the Wilbraham Fire Department receives hundreds of calls from residents in need of medical help, but it takes something special for the department to recognize a caller for his or her courageous work.

One of those callers was celebrated last Monday at both Fire Headquarters on Boston Road and at Wilbraham Town Hall. Michael Farnham, a 14-year-old students from Minnechaug Regional High School, was recognized for the way he handled an accident in his home.

A release from the WFD described the incident: "On Jan. 21, at 6:12 p.m., the Wilbraham Police Department received a call via 911 on a three-year-old girl who had fallen down a flight of stairs striking her head on a glass cabinet at home. The caller was her 14-year-old brother. Their parents were not home at this time.

"Dispatchers David Clark and Linda Ely were on duty that night at Central Dispatch and received the call. Dispatcher Clark stated that Michael remained calm and was able to administer the care and medical attention that his sister needed to prevent Katrina's condition from deteriorating. Even as his [other] sister stood at his side in obvious distress, Michael was able to think, listen and attempt to calm his sister until emergency personnel arrived. Michael was able to apply direct pressure to the laceration on his sister's head and could be heard in an extremely calm tone on the phone. Clark stated he was amazed at how well Michael preformed under pressure. He immediately contacted the fire department to see if they honor such cases."

"I babysit my sisters every night, Monday through Thursday," Michael told Reminder Publications. "That night I gave [my sister Katrina] her blanket and sent her upstairs to bed. I was turning off the TV when I heard her fall down the stairs, and then I heard glass break. At first I thought she dropped something down the stairs, but then I saw blood and I knew it was serious."

Michael said that as soon as he picked his sister up, he knew what he had to do. He added that that was the first time he had called 911.

Upon the arrival of the fire department, Paramedics Jim Royce and Dan Corliss stated that Michael had taken steps to help his sister by applying direct pressure to her head to control the bleeding. Michael also rode in the ambulance with his sister to keep Katrina calm and to assist in her treatment until they reached the hospital and their parents arrived.

"We're very impressed with him," Debbie Farnham, Michael's mother, said. "He's very level headed."

On hand to help honor Michael were his parents, Debbie and Chad, his two sisters, his grandparents and the dispatchers who took his call.

"We're not surprised," Elaine Combau, Michael's grandmother, said of her grandson's actions. "He's a very capable young man. I think he did a better job than I would have done."

Dispatcher David Clark said that while the WFD doesn't receive a lot of emergency calls from youth, Michael was "more on top of things than most adults."

The WFD celebrated Michael's performance with the presentation of an award from the fire department as well as one from the Massachusetts State Fire Marshall Office in Stowe. The Board of Selectmen and the Massachusetts Fire Academy presented citations to Michael as well.