June 12, 2014
By Mike Rigert
Thanks to the quick thinking of a 2-year-old English boy whose mother had taught him the importance of knowing the U.K.’s three-digit emergency number, 9-9-9, his timely call to emergency dispatch likely saved her life.
Riley Ward’s mother, Dana Henry, 27, collapsed while making a cup of tea on the morning of Feb. 5 at the family’s home after experiencing abdominal pains.
Riley dialed 9-9-9, repeatedly said, “Hello,” into the mouthpiece, and said, “Mummy’s on the floor.”
East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) calltaker Bonny Scanlon believed the call needed to be taken seriously and immediately sent first responders to the house in Barrow-upon-Soar in Leicestershire. The agency was able to obtain Riley’s location and address from the landline phone he used to call 9-9-9.
Paul Staples, the first EMAS paramedic to arrive on the scene, found Henry in a tremendous deal of pain and unable to speak. She was quickly transported to a nearby hospital where doctors discovered she had a large blood clot and dangerous bleeding of her ovary. Henry underwent surgery and made a full recovery, but added that if had she not passed out, she would have taken some pain medication and not called emergency dispatch.
“When the surgeon came to see me the next day, she said she had never seen anything like it before,” Henry said. “I asked her what would have happened if I hadn’t of come to the hospital, and she said I would have been very poorly. It really scared me, because if I didn’t pass out and Riley hadn’t rung the ambulance, I might not be here today.”
Staples said Riley was excited that he and a police officer had arrived on-scene and told them, “Mummy’s poorly.”
“I was concerned that Riley may be upset seeing his mum in so much pain, so I said to him, ‘Why don’t you show the policeman your toys?,’” Staples said. “He did so without question and with a great deal of enthusiasm.”
On March 31, Riley, believed to be the youngest caller to EMAS for an actual emergency, was awarded a paramedic teddy bear and a certificate for his bravery.
“Rob (Riley’s father) was just as surprised as I was when we realized Riley had called 9-9-9,” Henry said. “We had it drilled into both of our children since they were old enough to understand numbers. They know that if mummy and daddy are poorly and they can’t wake us up, they should dial 9-9-9.”
The incredible actions of the youngster, who had just recently learned to talk, received media attention across the U.K., throughout Europe, and as far away as Australia, including in the form of a congratulatory personal letter from British Prime Minister David Cameron.
“It made me really proud that Riley knew what to do,” Henry said. “We knew he remembered 9-9-9, but were so shocked that he was able to put it into action. He is mummy’s little hero.”
A father of five young children himself, Staples said kids never cease to amaze him.
“But Riley’s actions were particularly remarkable, and he demonstrated amazing sense of purpose in knowing exactly what to do,” Staples said. “I feel very privileged to have been able to help (Henry’s) recovery, but Riley played the biggest role in saving his mum’s life. He’s a star.”
The experience of Riley’s family underscores the importance of parents educating their children—at even the youngest of ages—to dial the appropriate emergency number when some thing is wrong.
To listen to the call, click here.