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North Versailles boy, officer lauded for life-saving 911 call

| Thursday, March 14, 2013, 4:56 a.m.
Fire prevention officer Mark Frederick and Christopher Portis, 5, of North Versailles Township show off their plaques given by Fire Department of North Versailles Chief Jeff McNeill for acts of heroism.
Aaron Loughner | Daily News
Fire prevention officer Mark Frederick and Christopher Portis, 5, of North Versailles Township show off their plaques given by Fire Department of North Versailles Chief Jeff McNeill for acts of heroism.

Fire Department of North Versailles honored a 5-year-old boy who helped save his mother's life by dialing 911, as well as the fire prevention officer who taught him what to do in an emergency.

Brightside Academy preschooler Christopher Portis and firefighter Mark Frederick were presented plaques on Wednesday evening for their heroic efforts last month.

Christopher's mother Nicole Johnson began having a seizure on Feb. 11 at approximately 11 a.m. in her North Versailles Township home and the little boy was the only one there.

“I just saw her fall and I had to call 911,” Christopher said.

He said he knew what to do because “the fireman came to my school and told us.”

Johnson was transported to UPMC McKeesport and Christopher was taken to the North Versailles Police Department to wait for a relative to pick him up. At the police station, the 5-year-old noticed Frederick in his job as an emergency dispatcher.

“He walked in and said, ‘I know you. You taught me fire prevention at my school,'” Frederick said.

Frederick taught Christopher and his schoolmates at Brightside Academy in North Versailles in September.

Johnson said her son is a hero.

“He's so cute,” she said. “He paid attention in school.”

Frederick said he's pleased his lessons have been helping.

“Since 1997 we've had five emergencies — three fires and two ambulance calls — when kids had to remember what to do from what they learned at their school.”

He has been teaching fire prevention to students in East Allegheny schools and preschools within North Versailles Township since that time.

“We're very proud of Mark for doing this for over 15 years for the Fire Department of North Versailles,” FDNV Chief Jeff McNeill said. “He's done a great job.”

Frederick's wife Allison and daughter Amy also said they are very proud of him. Frederick said he started teaching fire prevention to Amy when she was 3.

Stacy Lee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1970, or slee@tribweb.com.

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