WHEATLAND — When Alex Rupp took part in a mock emergency drill at Boy Scout Camp Oh-Da-Ko-Ta in Burlington he knew he was gaining useful skills.

“They acted like a tornado hit the camp,” Rupp, who lives by the “Be Prepared” motto, recalls.

He never thought the scenario would play out for real, but that experience helped when the sirens went off a little more than a year ago in Wheatland.

Rupp, 16 at the time, got his younger brother Tyrus Beam, and his brother’s friend Miles Nelson into the basement and into a safe room. He also retrieved their dog Tank, and a turtle named Terry, who helped him earn his Reptile and Amphibian merit badge. It was a little after 4 p.m. and his mother was not home yet.

“I got back down there and not even two minutes later it hit,” Alex said. “I put my arms over them and told them everything was going to be okay.”

He shielded them as debris fell from the ceiling.

“There was nothing (left) when I came up,” Rupp recalls. “Absolutely nothing.”

“Alex’s quick thinking saved lives,” John Trione, Troop 38 scoutmaster, said.

For his quick, calm and selfless acts, Rupp was recognized Wednesday by the Boy Scouts of America. He received the heroism medal, the heroism patch and a plaque during an honors ceremony held at Wheatland Center School. Kenosha County Executive Jim Kreuser also gave Alex an award for bravery.

The Heroism Award is one of three types of lifesaving awards given by the national organization. It is given to a scout who has demonstrated heroism and skill in saving or attempting to save life at risk to himself.

Rupp said he did what anyone would do.

“I’ve been in scouts for 12 years now,” Alex said. “It’s taught me a lot and pretty much made me the person I am today.” Alex, who will be 18 in April, also has only to paperwork remaining before becoming an Eagle Scout.

“What he did is uncommon and heroic,” Trione said. “He protected (the boys) and kept them calm during a very traumatic experience. He placed his body over the boys to absorb the impact of anything that crashed down on them, putting their welfare above his own.”

“A lot of people became heroes that night,” Alex said. “I am just proud to have done my part.”