WASHINGTON - There was a happy reunion and a word of thanks at Reagan National Airport on Monday.
Last month, a family in Alexandria, Virginia had to escape their home after a fire broke out. But it wasn't only the fire that was unexpected. It was the person who led the escape to safety from the blaze.
Gabby Mushahwar is like most 5-year-olds, except Gabby is sort of a hero.
“Fires are bad and they can burn you if you get really close to them,” she said
Firefighters at Reagan National Airport first met Gabby last fall when they hosted a fire safety drill during a Plane Pull event for kids.
"It's been a big hit with the kids,” said Capt. Michael Osborne of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s Fire Department. “It's been awesome.”
The escape drill teaches kids how to roll out of bed, check that doors are not hot before opening and how to low crawl so they don't breathe smoke.
"It's for helping kids that don't know how to do it," said Gabby.
Gabby and 1,300 of other kids ran the course that day. But at the time, it didn't really make much of an impact to Gabby's mother.
"We didn't think much of it and we just had her go through it,” said Amy Mushahwar. “We thought she was simply going through it for the popsicle.”
But there is a big difference between practice and real life. This family found out on November 12th right before Thanksgiving. At 2 a.m., fire broke out at the Mushahwar family's home.
"In a fire, you have to crawl out of your bed when you hear that smoke alarm,” Gabby said.
Gabby started giving orders – how to low crawl, check doors and get out of the house safely. Her mother realized her 5-year-old was recreating the fire safety drill she had taken months ago at the airport.
"We instantly knew that she got it from this exercise,” said Gabby’s mother. “We were so thankful that she knew what to do.”
"You never get that positive feedback that something actually happened,” said Capt. Osborne. “And in this event, something actually happened.”
Gabby received a hero's welcome from firefighters on Monday as she got a tour of the fire station at Reagan National Airport.
"I got to go on the fire truck and squirt the water,” she said. “I liked squirting the water.”
For her family, there is relief that 5-year-old Gabby takes fire safety to heart.