BEDMINSTER, NJ — Four Bell Atlantic Mobile customers have been selected as 1998 VITA Wireless Samaritan Award winners based on their quick thinking and use of their wireless phone to summon help in emergency situations. Sean Kimball of New Jersey, Allen Bosworth of South Carolina, Anne Hendley of Delaware, and Grace and David Gilbert of Connecticut were chosen by the Cellular Telephone Industry Association (CTIA) as the sole national award recipients from their respective states.
The four will be honored at a gala dinner hosted by the CTIA on June 3 in Washington, D.C.
Initiated in 1993, the VITA award, which means "life" in Latin, recognizes outstanding public service of individuals who use their cellular phones to save lives, stop crimes, and speed help in emergencies. A select panel from law enforcement and emergency response services judge the nominees and identify one individual from each state to receive the VITA Wireless Samaritan Award.
"We are proud that our customers are using their wireless phones as a personal safety net to help save lives and protect their community," said Denny Strigl, president and chief executive officer of Bell Atlantic Mobile. "By their actions, they have demonstrated that, in fact, wireless saves -- whether they personally are in danger, or are coming to the rescue of others."
Sean Kimball used his wireless phone to aid children and their would-be rescuers in a near-drowning accident in a creek near where he was picnicking. Kimball used his Bell Atlantic Mobile wireless phone to dial 9- 1-1, then dragged one of the boys out of the frigid water and attempted to rescue the others as emergency services raced to the scene. Thanks to Kimball's quick thinking, emergency crews were able to get the additional three victims out of the water within 15 minutes.
Allen Bosworth used his wireless phone to report a drunk-driver who swerved into the oncoming traffic lane and crashed into a tree. As the intoxicated driver raced from the scene on foot, Bosworth -- who was still on the line with the 911 operator -- began chasing him and notified the operator of the direction they were heading, to aid the police in their search. The driver stumbled into traffic several times during the 10-minute chase, until police arrived.
Anne Hendley became known as a wireless Samaritan by using wireless technology to aid the elderly. As property manager for a housing community comprising mostly senior citizens, Hendley provided her wireless phone number to residents, letting them know she was just a phone call away in the event of an emergency. Last year, she received calls on two different occasions when a housebound resident fell and could not get up. Both times, Hendley rushed to the victim's aid.
Grace and David Gilbert obtained emergency assistance for themselves and their two grandsons when the engine of their motor home caught on fire as they were driving up Olympic Mountain. After putting out the fire with an extinguisher, they realized they were stranded more than 3,000 miles from home, with night closing in. Mrs. Gilbert used their wireless phone to call for emergency services and reach their insurance company. In less than an hour, they were on their way down the mountain to safety.
The four will travel to Washington this week, compliments of Bell Atlantic Mobile, to receive their award at the June 3 dinner.
More than 84,000 calls a day are made to 9-1-1 from wireless phones. This amounted to 30.5 million calls last year alone.
Bell Atlantic Mobile owns and operates the largest wireless network in the East, covering 112,000 square miles, and the largest chain of retail outlets devoted exclusively to wireless voice, data and paging. Based in Bedminster, NJ, Bell Atlantic Mobile has 5.5 million customers and 7,000 employees from Maine to Georgia and, through a separate subsidiary, in the Southwest. Through its 'Wireless at Work...' community relations program, the company uses its technology to help individuals and communities improve security and emergency communications. Bell Atlantic Mobile's parent is one of the world's largest wireless communications companies, with domestic operations in 25 states and international investments in Mexico, Europe and the Pacific Rim. For more information on Bell Atlantic Mobile visit: www.bam.com; on global operations visit: www.bellatlantic.com/worldwide.