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Teen honored for aiding boy hit by dirt bike

Phillip Ellison, a teen working at the Cherry Hill splash park, was honored Wednesday by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake for coming to the aid of a 5-year-old who was hit by a dirt bike earlier this week. (Yvonne Wenger/Baltimore Sun)

Phillip Ellison was walking to his aunt's house Saturday when he saw a young boy struck down by a man on a dirt bike who then rode off.

Ellison, 16, who is trained in first aid and works at the Cherry Hill Splash Park pool, ran to the boy and immediately began performing CPR in the middle of Round Street in Cherry Hill. He held his fingers in front of the boy's face, catching his gaze until his eyes rolled back into his head and he suffered a seizure, Ellison recalled. A large crowd gathered and paramedics arrived, taking the boy to the hospital.

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Ellison was honored at City Hall on Wednesday for his actions by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Fire Chief Niles Ford.

"So often in the media we are confronted with images of our young people only when something bad happens, or if they do something bad. Every day I get to meet young people across our city with so much promise," Rawlings-Blake said before handing Ellison a certificate of recognition.

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"This young man leapt into the fray," she said. "Because of his training and because of his character, he knew exactly what to do. Phillip immediately began CPR in order to save that young man's life."

Baltimore police have not made any arrests in the incident. The 5-year-old boy, who was not identified by authorities, is in critical but stable condition at a local hospital.

Last year, Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts said police planned to target organizers of dirt bike rides in the city, where it is illegal to operate the bikes.

It's not uncommon for riders to come by in groups in the Cherry Hill community, said Terry Malone, who said the victim is his cousin.

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He described how the "12 O'Clock Boys," a group of riders, will often block the street and do tricks, attracting kids. He said it was a different group on Saturday in the neighborhood.

"I saw the bikes riding around," Malone said. "Accidents happen, but for them to pull off?"

A freshman at the Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy, Ellison said he hopes to one day become an EMT.

In the meantime, he works at the pool as an attendant and wants to become a lifeguard and eventually a pool manager, he said.

Ellison said the incident was his second rescue of the day, recalling how earlier he had pulled a little girl from the baby pool after her brother was playing too roughly and held her under the water.

Ellison's mother, Glenda, said her family lives down the street from the pool, and her son would often talk about becoming a lifeguard. She recalled how he said, "'I am going to wear those red shorts one day.' He used to tell me that every day. He finally earned those blues," she said, referring to his job as a pool attendant. "I was so excited. He's moving up to those reds. I'm so proud of him."

Ellison began working for the city's Recreation and Parks Department as a paid employee last summer. But he's been volunteering since he was 13, said Darryl Sutton, the department's aquatics chief. He said Ellison is working to build his stamina swimming and will achieve his goal of becoming a lifeguard.

"He sets goals for himself," Sutton said. "He never missed a day of work. He's really responsible for his age. We wish we had more kids like him."

twitter.com/janders5

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