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Citizen in the Spotlight:

The Paul Nicholson Story

By Yumnah Syed

Paul Nicholson
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 from anyone."

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