Selden boy's heroism earns him Junior Firefighter award

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Selden firefighters -- impressed with the quick wits of a 7-year-old boy who they say helped get emergency aid for his unconscious mother while keeping watch over his younger sister and dog -- will honor the young hero Tuesday night as a Junior Firefighter.

The department's top brass will swear in Michael Sitler, who will also receive a certificate for bravery and a merit bar at a ceremony at the department's Woodmere Place headquarters at 6 p.m. Selden Fire Chief David Panebianco, the Suffolk County dispatcher who took the call from Michael, other Selden firefighters and Suffolk police will attend the event.

The honors come after Michael kept his cool under stressful circumstances and performed multiple critical tasks during an emergency Friday night, officials said.

His mother, Sunny Sitler, had passed out, leaving him to find help for her while caring for his 4-year-old sister, Karlie, and their restless dog, Chance.

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Officials said Michael calmly called 911 and described the scene to the dispatcher during the three minutes that Suffolk police and Selden firefighters took to arrive.

Once they did, Michael reassured his sister that everything was going to be all right and soothed the pooch.

Sunny Sitler was taken to Stony Brook University Hospital, where she was treated. Michael also gave first responders contact information for his father, a correction officer who was working at the Suffolk jail at the time.

"It was very significant," First Assistant Chief Michael Matteo said of the boy's actions, adding it's rare that children that young have the presence of mind to rise to such a challenge.

"If he didn't keep a cool, calm demeanor on the phone and wasn't able to get the information to the dispatcher, the outcome could have been totally different."

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