Using sign language is, of course, a must in the deaf-mute community. Outside of that, it’s pretty rare to know someone who can use it. However, it’s especially helpful when first responders can use sign language for a person in need.
One firefighter was on a regular inspection in a building, but he surprised everyone when he used sign language to communicate with a young boy. The unexpected act brought tears to the boy’s mother’s eyes and his kindness, which was caught on camera, went viral.
On Thursday, firefighters came to an apartment building for an inspection. This was because some fire alarms were going off, and people were worried. Amy McCall lives in that apartment building with her young son, Tegan, who has cerebral palsy.
Because Tegan can’t speak, he learned sign language. During the inspection one of the firefighters who was dispatched to the apartment was Lieutenant Mike Rheault. Not knowing Tegan couldn’t speak, when Lt. Rheault crossed paths with Tegan he sensed Tegan was trying to communicate with him. Going on instinct Lt. Rheault gace sign language a shot, not knowing how the young boy would respond, or if he’d even understand.
According to an interview with WMUR-TV, Lt. Rheault came upon Tegan standing in the doorway to he and his mother’s apartment. He looked like he wanted to say something but didn’t speak. On a hunch, the firefighter decided to try communicating with him using sign language.
“I said, ‘Hey, how are you?’ and he kind of smiled at me. And I said, ‘My name is Mike.'”
Amy saw the interaction, which was recorded on video. It was a short meeting, but Amy said that she would always remember it and that it most likely changed her son’s life. In fact, after the meeting, Tegan expressed a desire to wear a fireman’s hat.
Lt. Rheault even taught the young boy a new sign–the sign for firefighter. The video, uploaded by Amy on Twitter, has been watched more than 2,000 times now.
When asked how he knew to use sign language, the firefighter revealed that his parents were deaf and that ASL was practically his first language. He said that he had used it on ten occasions throughout his entire career as a firefighter.
Amy said she was glad that the video had gone viral because she wanted other people to be inspired by it. It was a simple deed, but Lt. Rheault’s humble act of kindness brightened a young boy’s day. Amy also said that she hoped it would inspire other people to reach out to children like her son, Tegan. She said,
“Talk to all the kids. If you see a kid at the playground who is different or in a wheelchair or doesn’t speak or has special accommodations, they just want to be your friend.”
Small acts of kindness can have a huge impact on people, and Tegan will remember this firefighter for a long time.