Fire Department, Whittier honor boy’s actions

       Michael Eilert, a 6-year-old Whittier Elementary student whose actions in a house fire may have saved his mother's and sister's lives, was honored by fire officials and his fellow students at a school assembly Jan. 20.
       Also honored were Terri Adams and Robyn Fewell, his kindergarten teacher and her education assistant, respectively, for imparting the necessary fire safety knowledge to Michael and his fellow students.
       The fire occurred Nov. 19. According to reports, Michael heard the smoke alarm and ran outside.
       This was in keeping with the training he and other kindergarteners had received three weeks earlier as a result of a fire prevention class in school and a field trip to the Westside's Fire Station 5, according to Cathy Prudhomme of the Colorado Springs Fire Department.
       The chief message for children ages 11 and under is to immediately leave the building if there's a fire or a smoke alarm goes off. Only when they are safely outside should they try to call 911 or get a neighbor to do so, Prudhomme explained.
       In Michael's case, when he got outside in response to the smoke alarm, he was spotted by individuals in a passing car, who pulled over to find out what was wrong. Seeing the fire inside the house, they then called 911, started watering the blaze with a garden hose and ensured the safety of Michael and his 2-year-old sister, Morgan.
       “He did what he was taught in fire safety,” Connie Chavez of El Paso-Teller 911 told the assembly.
       Representatives of both 911 and the Fire Department were on hand.
       According to Whittier Principal Marlys Berg, who has talked to the family, Michael additionally helped his 2-year-old sister get out of the house.
       Chavez and Prudhomme believe his speedy actions may also have saved the life of his mother, Heather Eilert, who was trapped in the bedroom where the fire was. She was nonetheless badly burned. Her left leg had to be amputated below the knee, and she remains in a drug-induced coma at the University of Colorado Hospital in Denver.

Westside Pioneer article