The Littlest Hero

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011 - 1:36pm

2-year-old talks to 911 dispatcher after her great-grandmother passes out.

When 77-year-old Virginia Claflin suffered heart problems Saturday in her North Muskegon, Michigan home she was able to tell a 911 operator that her internal defibrillator had activated four times and give her address.

The dispatcher soon heard sounds of pain.

Then, Claflin could no longer communicate.

That's when a distinctly young voice came on the line.

Claflin's 2-year-old great-granddaughter Aliya Carrasco picked up the phone and started telling the operator what she was seeing.

"Grandma's fallen down," Aliya said.

Asked by the dispatcher if her great-grandmother's eyes were open, Aliya said they weren't.

"Does it look like she's sleeping?" the operator asked.

Aliya answered yes.

The girl was told to tell her great-grandmother that help was on the way and to open the door when responders arrived.

When they did, Aliya told responders where her grandmother was, and where her baby brother and sleeping great-grandfather were.

Virginia Claflin was expected to be taken to a Grand Rapids hospital Monday for minor surgery and is expected to be fine, said Alicia Szymczyk, the woman's granddaughter and Aliya's mother.

North Muskegon Fire Chief Steven Lague says he was impressed, at least in part, by just how young Aliya is.

"In my 28 years of experience, I've never experienced anything with a 2-and-a-half-year-old like this," Lague said in an interview Monday. "We have had 5-year-olds and 6-year-olds, but at this age, I was very shocked."

Just knowing that a child was in the home created a better emergency response, the chief said, and the fact that she stayed calm made everything easier.

Aliya's mom said she's impressed as well, but not necessarily surprised.

"That's pretty typical," Szymczyk said. "She loves talking on the phone."

The North Muskegon fire chief said what happened can be a reminder for families to talk about emergencies.

He said that children should know their address and what 911 means.

The department already starts talking to kids about that at day-care age, he said.

"I don't think it's too early for them to start learning now," Lague said.

Aliya and her mom were visiting from California, so the toddler may not have known the address at her great-grandparents' home, but Szymczyk said the family has talked about who the police and firefighters are.
 

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