A 13-year-old who says she was acting on her instincts was honored by firefighters and police officers in Montgomery County Wednesday for saving the life of a neighbor’s pet.
When Eva Soderstrom saw smoke coming out of the back of a neighbor’s house the afternoon of May 14, she instinctively told her mother.
“I was kind of in shock, but I acted quickly and I told my mom,” she said.
“She quickly alerted her mom, Patricia, and instructed her to contact 911,” 5th District Commander Capt. David Gillespie said.
In her police cruiser, Montgomery County Police Officer Nicole Gamard heard the report of a fire at her own address.
"I was less than a minute, actually, away from my own house when the call went out," she said. "And I went, 'Hey, that address sounds famiI-; wait I know why that address sounds familiar'."
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Gamard immediately worried about her dogs, Quest and Frenzy. She made it home to see Fire and Rescue responders enter through the front door, but although the dogs were within two feet of the entrance, it took more time to find them because of the thick smoke.
When they were found, police and fire and rescue gave Quest oxygen through a pediatric mask, but Frenzy required intubation.
Frenzy didn’t survive, but Quest has fully recovered.
"In all the craziness, looking back, I really wish someone had pictures of four, fully-geared firefighters running with this litter [rescue basket] with a big black dog [Quest] up to a police cruiser with my beat partner in a full sprint behind them," Officer Gamard said. "Or of my other beat partner working on Frenzy in the rear of his cruiser. Truly amazing impressions that are burnt into memory."
Eva received Citizen’s Public Safety Award Wednesday for her quick thinking.
"A lot of people worked really hard to get Quest back to me, and I am thankful to all of them, but it all started with a 13-year-old named Eva," Gamard said. "Other people in the neighborhood saw smoke coming from the house but did not call 911. The fact that a 13-year-old stepped up and knew to call 911 is tremendous to me."
"It's kind of strange," Eva said, "because I guess it’s what you’re supposed to do."