Thanks to one toddler's quick thinking and knowledge to call 911, authorities are saying she might have saved her mother's and siblings' lives on Wednesday. After her mom fell unconscious, Dorothy Craig grabbed her mom's cell phone and remembered to dial the emergency number.
The 3-year-old from Cleveland, Texas, may still be learning her words, but she stayed on the line with the dispatcher.
In the 911 call recording, which was posted by ABC 13, the dispatcher answered, "Liberty County 911."
Dorothy could be heard saying, "Mommy," in response.
The dispatcher asked for her name and description of the house but couldn't understand the child's response. Later, when asked if her mom was sick or hurt, Dorothy said, "Yes." A follow-up question, "She's in the house with you?" was answered with "on the floor."
Liberty County Sheriff's deputies went door to door for about a half hour before tracking down the correct house. They found the mother unconscious and Dorothy's two younger siblings unattended. According to ABC 7, her 2-year-old brother was in a sink full of water and the 5-month-old baby was strapped in a car seat on the floor.
The mom, Miranda, was treated by the emergency responders. She told ABC that she suffers from narcolepsy, a chronic neurological disorder that affects the brain’s ability to control sleep-wake cycles and can cause people to suddenly fall asleep, even if they're in the middle of an activity like driving or eating. Symptoms might also include sudden muscle weakness, the inability to move, hallucinations and paralysis.
Lucky for everyone, Dorothy was able to put her phone skills to use. Children as young as 3 years old can be taught to dial 911 during an emergency. Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a New York City-based psychologist, suggests parents explain what an emergency is (because you definitely don't want them to be dialing emergency numbers for fun or in not-so-serious situations). For instance, emergencies might be when there's a fire, car accident, stranger danger or someone's unresponsive or bleeding a lot. Role-playing and rehearsing 911 calls is great way to think through different and specific emergency scenarios. To help children feel less anxious, it can also be a good idea to talk to them about different types of emergency workers, from police officers to firefighters and their respective uniforms.
Sometimes, especially when the call isn't through a landline, it can be hard for emergency centers to precisely locate the caller. Teach children to give their first and last names and provide the address or identify a location by buildings, signs or landmarks.