Girl's 911 call saves mom's life
Autumn Parrish, 10, plays at Gunter’s Fisk Park with her parents Amanda and Tech. Sgt. James Parrish March 6. When Mrs. Parrish passed out Feb. 23, Amanda knew what to do. (Air Force photo/Kelly Deichert)
by Kelly Deichert
Air University Public Affairs
3/9/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- When an emergency occurred, Autumn Parrish, 10, knew to call 911. That knowledge helped save her mother's life.
"I turned around, and she was laying on the floor," Autumn said, remembering the afternoon of Feb. 23.
Amanda Parrish has diabetes, and Autumn knew it was important to call 911 quickly. She told the dispatcher her mom passed out and wasn't breathing.
Wade Haughton, the emergency vehicle dispatcher for Maxwell Emergency Control Center, said he was impressed Autumn remained calm.
"Autumn, displaying composure and courage beyond her years, clearly provided her location, her mother's symptoms and medical history, and continued to give me updates until first responders arrived," he said.
Haughton coordinated the response, and Gunter fire personnel, Montgomery fire medics and an off-base ambulance provided medical assistance.
Autumn knew after calling 911 her job wasn't over. She had the foresight to lock up the dog for safety, then she took care of her younger sister, Lacy, 6. "Ice cream always calms little sister down," she said.
She also remembered to call her dad, Tech. Sgt. James Parrish, noncommissioned officer in charge of communications focal point at Electronic Systems Center.
He admits he was a little overwhelmed. "When I got home, Autumn was in control of the whole situation," he said.
Hearing the story afterward, Mrs. Parrish was impressed her daughter was so thorough. "She knew the important medications I was on, what I was allergic to," she said.
Mrs. Parrish said they had talked to Autumn about diabetes and 911, and said it is important for parents to talk to children about what to do in emergency situations. She also recommends having a written list of medications and allergies for all family members, just in case.
"You need to have a plan," she said. "Parents should practice with the kids, too, so they won't be so alarmed."
The Parrishes are impressed by Autumn's ability to remain calm and take care of the family. Thanks to her quick actions, Mrs. Parrish got the medical attention she needed and only had to spend the evening in the hospital.
"We're very proud of her," Mrs. Parrish said.
Talking to children about 911
Wade Haughton, an emergency vehicle dispatcher for Maxwell Emergency Control Center, encouraged parents to educate children on what to do in an emergency.
"It's important for families to teach children about 911, even at early ages, because it's a critical lifeline to fire, medical and law enforcement responders," he said. "Base first responders have excellent response times, but that response time largely depends on us receiving timely and accurate information via 911."
He provided these tips for talking to children about 911:
· Always pronounce all three digits, "nine-one-one," when teaching children. Never say "nine-eleven" as younger children may try to find an "eleven" button on the phone. For younger children turning the lesson into a song may be helpful, such as "I see a fire, call 911. Somebody is hurt, call 911."
· Make sure children know their address, name and parents' names.
· Teach children landmarks, such as a park or a playground, near your house in case they forget their address. It can also be helpful to place something unique in front of your house, such as a colored ribbon around a tree or a large yard ornament. Teach them to tell the dispatcher about the special item if they forget their address.
· Teach children to never hang up on a dispatcher and stay on the line until help arrives.
· Teach children to try to use a home phone when possible, since phones on base ring directly to the Maxwell Emergency Control Center and normally provide the resident's name and address.
· Cellphone users on base must call 953-9911 to reach Maxwell first responders. Otherwise the call will go to Montgomery and result in a delayed response. Cellphone users on base, adults or children, should create a phonebook or speed dial entry on their cellphones labeled "911 Maxwell" programmed to 953-9911. It takes less than a minute to do, and it's a lot easier to remember during an emergency than a seven-digit number.
· Those who see a fire, medical or law enforcement emergency should never assume someone else has already called and base emergency personnel has received a fire alarm. Base emergency personnel would much rather receive multiple 911 calls about the same emergency than receive none at all.