Citizen in the Spotlight:
The Paul Nicholson Story
By Yumnah Syed
Citizen in Action Paul Nicholson has been a State Farm Insurance Agent since 1977. Ten years ago, the Eureka, California resident fell off a cement truck and was rushed to the hospital after his wife called 9-1-1.
A talk with his son after the accident, proved to be more life changing than the event itself. His son, approximately 5-years-old, told him he was unsure what to do in an emergency. That simple statement led Nicholson to start educating students on 9-1-1. He remembered he had seen a 9-1-1 call simulator machine at a Red Cross Conference, and pooled contributions from other agents to purchase one.
The biggest challenge he faced was setting up the program and taking it
to the first school. Luckily, one of his clients was a principal at a
local elementary school. According to Nicholson, once she allowed him to
present at her school, "the Humboldt County Risk Manager heard about
it, and asked if I would do it for other schools."
"Almost immediately, I was booked by school after school, " Nicholson
remarked. He decided to visit one school every week. Each session takes
about 5 hours to teach the children, depending on the size of the
school. “I am booked almost all year long."
Last year, Nicholson was honored at the State Capitol in Sacramento
along with a young man (age 9 at the time) who he had taught to dial 911
in K, 1st and 2nd grades. He called 911 when he was in 3rd grade and
saved his mom.
Nicholson eventually met 911 for Kids, and was told about the program
through which 911 for Kids will reimburse the cost of items if the local
911 call center places the order and pays for it.
The local 911 call center agreed to purchase 1000 color books so I could
give them to all of the kindergarten children. They also ordered enough
pencils and stickers so every child could have something.
"I purchased the 911 DVD for every school and gave it to the
kindergarten teachers since the characters in the color book are on the
DVD," Nicholson said. "Teachers have told me this helps tremendously
since the children have the color book and the DVD so the message is
much stronger." He also provides 911 refrigerator magnets along with a
letter for the parents for every child.
Nicholson says he hopes to continue to keep his program going. "State
Farm has given a great opportunity to me as an agent by providing me
with excellent products and support." Nicholson says, "I want to give
back to the community that supports me and I do not request any funding