So there you go. My daughter’s 15 minutes of fame happened when she was aged two and a half! Many differing versions of the event were publicised, some factually correct, others, well let’s just say I had a very small taste of how stories are altered to varying degrees! As much as a particular television corporation would love to take credit for a television programme solely teaching my daughter to call 999, I must explain the full circumstances, the unedited version, which will hopefully persuade other parents out there to never underestimate the capabilities of a young child.
Oliver, known to us as Ollie, is our youngest child. When he was 10 months old, Ollie experienced a febrile convulsion. As such he was whisked away to hospital by ambulance. Izzy, aged 2 years old, was awoken by the events of the night which then required an age appropriate explanation. From that point onwards any games of Doctors and Nurses involved an unsuspecting Ollie as the patient who inevitably sustained lots of prodding and poking with Izzy’s medical kit! On one occasion, I picked up a toy mobile phone and pretended to make a 999 call to request an ambulance. When the ambulance arrived, which was Izzy on her ride-on, Ollie was taken to hospital and made to feel much better. Alls well that ends well as they say! Izzy, clearly not satisfied with her new role as an ambulance driver, took it upon herself to re-enact the telephone call copying everything I had previously said. And so the game ensued. Little did I know what I had inadvertently taught my 2 year old!
Like mother like daughter…… Izzy developed a fondness for the telephone! She already knew how to turn the telephone on with the loud speaker function, redial or randomly dial, which was then followed by a conversation with whoever would indulge a talkative toddler. I encouraged Izzy to press numbers on the phone by calling out the number and showing her where that particular number was. Although Izzy already knew how to count to 13, she had no idea what these numbers looked like, nor previously interested! The phone was a fascinating object, one she could not resist. I am sure I will pay for this in future years! Every time I made a call, I did so with Izzy’s help. For one, I was trying to teach her that the phone was an important object in the house, not a toy to be dropped on the floor, hidden under the cushions or used for playing with. Secondly, Izzy was genuinely interested in learning numbers and this seemed an ideal way to teach her. Thirdly, and rather more selfishly, her interest meant that I could make a call and have a conversation without said toddler seeing an opportunity to be mischievous whilst Mummy was temporarily occupied!
Once the land line was mastered, my mobile phone was her next mission. Izzy had watched me make a call to my husband Jason by depressing one key on the phone. VIPs were on speed dial! Not so good though for the eager child who thought phoning Daddy and leaving messages for him was a great idea. Luckily for me, Izzy and the phone were never left alone for too long!
The day before Izzy became my little hero, we had rather idly snuggled up in bed watching television whilst we waited for Ollie to wake up. Whilst flicking through the channels a programme caught Izzy’s eye. This programme was called The Tweenies which features Bella, Jake, Fizz and Milo; characters to entertain pre-school children. The episode we watched showed Bella recalling an emergency call which was of great interest to Izzy who seemed amazed that someone else knew how to do this too. Thankfully, Ollie woke up, which meant I was relieved from watching the rest of the programme, little did I know how thankful I would be, in part, to the Tweenies!
The following day, both children were playing in the lounge. Ollie had just taken his first steps unaided and I was feeling rather pleased with myself for having caught this on video. I sent a video message via text to Jase, disappointed for him that he had missed the occasion, but happy in the knowledge I had captured the evidence!
I went to the kitchen to get some water when I began to feel my throat itching. Rather quickly, I felt my lips tightening and intensely itching. Unaware of what I had touched, I began to suspect that I was having an allergic reaction to something. I have a severe allergy to peanuts, almonds and latex (natural rubber). As I had not ingested anything, I was fairly sure I had come into contact with latex. Although what this was, had not been apparent to me at that time. As I reached for my handbag to take anti-histamine, I could feel my throat tighten. I realised that I needed my Epipen. For those of you who do not know, an Epipen is a medical device used to deliver a specific dose of adrenaline using auto injector technology. This is most frequently used for the treatment of acute allergic reactions to avoid or treat the onset of anaphylactic shock.
Whilst trying to locate the EpiPen in the ‘mummy’s handbag’ which generally contains everything you could possibly need for toddlers, (as opposed to the purse and lip gloss I once used to carry), I called out to Izzy asking her to bring Mummy the phone as Mummy was poorly. Once the medication was retrieved, I tried to undo the EpiPen case, take it out, and take the cap off ready to auto-inject the adrenaline. Izzy was stood in the hallway, and I could hear the loud speaker on the phone had been turned on. Admittedly, I was rather annoyed and frustrated that at my time of need, I did not require a toddler playing with the phone. I heard key tones from the phone but as my airway tightened my first priority was for the EpiPen to be administered. It was then I could hear a voice: I wasn’t entirely sure of the conversation taking place, perhaps couldn’t believe it or too focused on trying to inject the EpiPen. When I heard an Emergency Operator speak I looked up only to see Izzy walking further away with the phone. I was mindful of the fact that the adrenaline may take a while to work and it is one of a few rare occasions that I am actually quiet, unable to speak! As such I told Izzy to speak, to tell the lady her name. My mind was a whirlwind. I had on the previous occasion, experienced no alleviation of symptoms despite use of the adrenaline. When Paramedics arrived a second dose was administered. The last thing I wanted was for the Operator to disconnect the call, or to send the local Police Force to investigate an abandoned 999 call. I urgently required medical assistance; my communication lifeline was disappearing.
Once I had used the EpiPen, I tried to make my way to the lounge where I thought Izzy had gone to. I managed to press the panic alarm on our intruder alarm system, before falling to the floor. As I lay on the floor, I caught sight of Izzy and Ollie. To my horror, Izzy walked past me towards the front door. As if that wasn’t enough, she was followed by Ollie who crawled past me. He too headed for the front door. I had dropped the Epipen onto the floor when I had fallen. I was already struggling to take a breath, my heart sank as he looked at the auto injector with protruding needle…… he crawled on. I can’t begin to tell you how I was feeling at thoughts of my babies opening the door, stepping onto the driveway and facing any oncoming vehicles. I felt powerless, sick to my stomach.
Despite the minutes to follow being hazy to say the least, I heard voices from adults, ones I recognised, and others I didn’t. The arrival of friends/neighbours, Martine Somerville and Elaine Tham (luckily for me a Nurse at our wonderful local surgery), is a moment I shall never forget. The realisation that my children were safe, unharmed from the potential dangers a 2 and 1 year old could face outside whilst unaccompanied was enough to make me feel instantly happier. It was shortly after their arrival and assistance that the Paramedics stood before me. Whilst receiving medical assistance I learnt the full extent of Izzy’s involvement in the 999 call. She had told the Emergency Operator her name, age, address and that her Mummy was poorly; a wonderful achievement for any child. The media stated that Izzy saved my life. Despite the fact my medication worked, this may not have been the outcome. Izzy potentially saved my life, and for that reason, her 999 call is one I shall remain truly grateful for.