Bangor police Officer Keith Larby thanks 10-year-old Mason Gibbs for calling 911 when an elderly neighbor couldn't breathe on Aug. 18. Gibbs calmly answered the dispatcher's questions and led paramedics to his neighbor's address. Credit: Courtesy of Bangor Police Department

Mason Gibbs was enjoying a steamy August day when a friend knocked on the 10-year-old’s front door in Bangor. Instead of asking Mason to play, his friend said a neighbor sounded like she needed help.

Sure enough, Gibbs’ elderly neighbor was calling out her open window, so he ran to the phone and called 911. Although he couldn’t see his neighbor and didn’t know exactly what was wrong, he waited outside and calmly answered the dispatcher’s questions.

“She screamed that she had trouble breathing, so I directed the ambulance to her house and they came with a hospital bed,” said Gibbs, a fourth-grader at Fairmount School.

Gibbs, who wants to be a police officer or paramedic when he grows up, said the situation was scary because he couldn’t see his neighbor and didn’t know what condition she was in or how long she had been sitting by her window, waiting for someone to hear her.

“I didn’t know whether she had passed out already,” he said. “She could’ve been struggling for a while.”

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Paramedics from the Bangor Fire Department arrived, so Gibbs’ neighbor could receive emergency treatment. Officers returned to Gibbs’ home later that day to thank him for calling first responders and reported his neighbor was in stable condition.

“His mom is doing a great job raising him, and this town is better with kids like him in it,” Bangor police Sgt. Jason McAmbley said.

Bangor police Officer Keith Larby, who took Gibbs’ call, and Sgt. John Robinson returned to Mason’s home late last month to give him a challenge coin and a certificate of gratitude, which “the chief of police signed in cursive,” Gibbs said.

Amber Walker, Gibbs’ mother, said she had reviewed when and how to call 911 with her son a few days before their neighbor needed help, so knowing what to do in that kind of situation was fresh in his mind.

“I’m proud of him for taking the initiative and being quick to get her the help she needed,” Walker said. “I don’t like that he had to go through that without me there, but he’s an amazing kid and has a big heart.”

Kathleen O'Brien is a reporter covering the Bangor area. Born and raised in Portland, she joined the Bangor Daily News in 2022 after working as a Bath-area reporter at The Times Record. She graduated from...