By Johnny Jackson
Though frightened, 11-year-old Wesley Wooten did what he believed was necessary.
"My grandma's house caught on fire, and I helped get her off the porch," said Wooten. "I ran across the street and got them [the neighbor's] to call 911."
That simple, but significant, act earned Wooten an early morning ride aboard a fire engine Monday, according to Sheila Malone, school counselor at Timber Ridge Elementary School in McDonough.
"When I pulled into the school, they turned on the sirens and made everybody scoot over," said Wooten, a fifth-grader at Timber Ridge.
Malone said Wooten's reward served to encourage other Timber Ridge students in their study of the importance of fire safety this month.
"This kind of reinforces what the firemen do," Malone said. "Even a small child can make a difference."
Wooten was treated to the ride by firefighters of Henry County Fire Station No. 13 in McDonough. The station, she added, routinely gives ride-alongs to Timber Ridge's Reading Buddy of the Month -- an honor given each month to a student with the highest Accelerated Reader score. She said Monday's ride was different. It was a surprise.
"I'm very proud of him, that he did not panic," said Wooten's stepmother, Lisa Wooten. "He is very mature for his age. He knew exactly what to do."
Wooten's father, Troy Wooten, said that in mid-September his son was at his mother's home in Griffin with his maternal grandmother, Mary Storey, when the fire began. No one was hurt. He said he and the boy's mother, Irene Storey, were at work at the time --during the day.
"We thank God that he wasn't in the house," said Troy Wooten. "He handled everything excellent, like a trooper. He's a good kid."
Wooten said he called on knowledge he gained as a kindergartner, which led him to help his grandmother get away from the fire. He watched firefighters put out the blaze from a neighbor's house.
"I know to stop, drop, and roll, call 911, stay out of the house, and don't hide from the firefighters," said Wooten. "[Now,] I want to be a firefighter to try to help people."