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Tupelo teen honored for heroic efforts

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Updated: 7/12/2013 11:06 pm
TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) -- For 15-year-old Brittany Clay, July 4 started in a very unexpected way.

"All I could see was just flames all over the kitchen, and there was smoke everywhere," Brittany Clay said. "My first thought was to call 911 because this fire is really, really bad."

On the other end was Lee County E911 dispatcher Tabitha Nichols.

Normally Nichols said she has to comfort callers who may be panicked on the other end, but that didn't happen this time.

"She just answered every question I asked her and didn't show any fear. You rarely experience callers like that," Nichols said.

Firefighters said every second is critical when they respond to a house fire and that's why they say what Brittany Clay did saved lives.

"When somebody can tell you exactly where the fire is at in a structure, it cuts down on two or three crucial minutes of going in and doing a blind search," Tupelo Fire Chief Thomas Walker said.

"She kept telling me to get everyone out of the house, and that's what I did," Brittany Clay said. "I had to get everyone out."

Because of her efforts, Brittany Clay received a plaque from Lee County E-911 and local law enforcement.

"I am very proud," mother Yolandis Clay said. "I didn't think she'd be able to pull this off. If it was me, I don't know [what I'd do.]"

At the same time, authorities say this situation echoes the need for children and teens to know what to do during an emergency.

"Teach them about 911, what we do, and how to dial 911. And let them know that we are gonna help them," Nichols said.

E-911 Director Paul Harkin says having an escape plan is also incredibly important.

Because of Brittany Clay's efforts, no one in her home suffered any injuries that day.

Firefighters were also able to extinguish the blaze before the home was destroyed.

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