13-year-old Md. girl honored for calling 911, helping to save dog's life in house fire

DAMASCUS, Md. (WJLA) - On Wednesday, a 4-year-old Shiloh Shepard thanked the child who saved its life in May.

Also thanking the child was the Montgomery County Police officer who owns the dog, named Quest.

Police officer Nicole Gamard said she was on duty one afternoon in May when she answered the call for police assistance at a house fire in Damascus.

Within seconds, she realized the house on fire was her own.

"I was headed to a crash [when I heard the call]," Gamard recalled. "Then I said, 'Wait a minute, I know why that address sounds familiar.'"

Even more troubling was the knowledge that her two dogs, Quest and Frenzy, were in the house.

Luckily, Quest and Frenzy were rescued from the house, but sadly, Frenzy later died from smoke inhalation.

Despite the loss of Frenzy, Gamard said she is grateful that Quest survived - and said it's all thanks to the young girl who saw the fire and called 911.

Thirteen-year-old Eva Soderstrom remembers that day, and how she spotted the fire in Gamard's house.

"I looked at my window ... and I saw dark, black smoke," Eva recalled.

Eva quickly alerted her mother to call 911.

"For a 13-year-old to call 911 when adults didn't - that's impressive," Gamard said.

Thanks to Eva's quick action, first-responders were able to treat Quest with special animal oxygen masks, saving the dog's life.

"It started with Eva making that call - that's why Quest is sitting here today," Gamard said.

In recognition of her actions, Officer Gamard and fellow officers from the 5th District presented Eva with a Citizen's Public Safety Award on Wednesday. Eva, her mother, and even Quest the dog were on hand to honor her.

"I'm extremely proud. She did the right thing," said Tricia Soderstrom, Eva's mother.

"I guess everyone has it in them," Eva said of her bravery.

Thanks to the incident, Officer Gamard said she has been inspired to advocate that all first responders in Montgomery County be equipped with special animal oxygen masks.