PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — 8-year-old Anthony Chianella stole the show at Thursday’s Pasco Sheriff’s office award ceremony.
But if it wasn’t for his siblings, he might not be here.
Last month, his 6-year-old sister, Michelle, and her kindergarten class from Odessa Elementary went on a field trip to Safety Town.
It’s where volunteer staff teach kids how to stay safe on the streets and at home.
That includes what to do if someone is drowning.
“Mr. John taught her how to not jump in after anyone, and to use a rope and to go make sure to get an adult to tell them,” said Amy Chianella.
Just three days later, Michelle and Anthony, who is autistic, were playing by their pool.
Anthony apparently fell, hit his head and went in the water.
Michelle reacted fast, running to get her mother, who is knows CPR very well.
While she worked on her son, Michelle went for help.
“She ran in and followed by every direction,” said Amy.
11-year-old Vincent, who also visited Safety Town, knew just what to do.
“I got the phone and called 911,” he said.
Eventually, paramedics got there, and after a serious scare, Anthony was ok, thanks in part to those lessons learned at Safety Town.
“Going through it and teaching them to call 911 and to recognize, they do different skits there, and they pretend like they call the ambulance. She just knew that there was danger,” said Amy.
“I felt relieved that he was alive. I know personally that many people do not make it out alive,” said Vincent.
“The retention is amazing. You think six years old might be too young, but the retention skills were paramount, especially on that day. It was proof positive what we do in this community, that what we are doing definitely works," said Safety Town coordinator, Corporal Tim Bullock.
Thursday, Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco recognized these little lifesavers with an award and a few extras.
“I got three badges, a comic book and a pencil,” said Michelle.
The field trip was actually moved up about a week.
If it was on the originally scheduled day, Michelle may not have known how to react.
Since the near tragedy, the family put the pool gate back up, installed an alarm, and even held neighborhood CPR training, so everyone can be prepared.
“I know that God was watching over us,” said Amy.