When grandfather needed help, Weatherford teen saved the day

ARLINGTON -- Ryan Reed knew it wasn't time to panic.

His grandfather Joe Posavitz, 66, had just suffered a heart attack and lost consciousness while driving along an Interstate 30 service road in Arlington.

Reed, a 16-year-old from Weatherford with Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism, calmly grabbed the wheel, steered the slowly moving vehicle to a stop, turned on the hazard lights and called 911 on his cellphone.

"He was gasping for air," said Reed, recalling the situation last October. "This was really scary."

The grandfather survived in no small measure because Reed calmly answered the dispatcher's questions until she was able to determine the vehicle's location near the new Center Street bridge and send help.

On Wednesday, Reed was given the 911 Teen Hero Award by the Arlington Fire Department and the Tarrant County 911 District for his calm thinking and lifesaving actions. His grandfather stood proudly by his side.

"Your immediate action to pull the car over and call 911 saved your grandfather's life. You did great," said Brian Riley, Arlington assistant fire chief, during the ceremony at the city's Emergency Operations Center.

Reed called it luck that he was riding with his grandfather that day. He joked that his "Poppy" -- who spent 28 days in the hospital -- owes him lots of presents.

"I'm glad I was there," said Reed, an 11th-grader at Wedgwood Academy in Fort Worth. "All I did was what I've watched other people do on the news."

Reed's mother, Lori Gouge, said the family members played the 911 tape during Thanksgiving dinner, thankful that Posavitz was out of the hospital and able to celebrate with them. They also brought cookies to the Fire Department and a poinsettia to 911 dispatcher Angie Phillips, whom they call their "angel."

Phillips, who joined Arlington 911 just six months ago, commended Reed on his courage.

"He was very calm," Phillips said. "He made my job easier."

In most cases, Tarrant County 911 dispatchers have the technology to locate calls from cellphones, but the accuracy varies from carrier to carrier, officials said.

"We still ask the public to know where they are, to be aware of their surroundings so we can get help to them faster," said Greg Petrey, executive director of the Tarrant County 911 District.

Susan Schrock, 817-390-7639