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Kid to 9-1-1: Mom Won't Wake Up

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When she went into a diabetic coma, this Mom's nightmare had only just begun.


When 39-year-old Anthonette Richardson Burden went into a diabetic coma, her young son whipped into action and called 9-1-1 on their cell phone.

But when EMS dispatchers asked where they live, the 5-year-old boy couldn't remember his address.

"When I taught my son to call 9-1-1, I showed him from the house phone," the Mom of two tells Mom•Logic. "I never realized he'd go for the cell phone and need to know our address."

Eventually, the dispatcher asked her son for his mom's full name, and was then able to look up their address and send an ambulance. Meanwhile, precious seconds ticked away as Anthonette lay on the ground with blood coming out of her mouth. "The doctor later told me if EMS didn't come when they did, I would have died," she says.

Now her mission is to make sure other Moms teach kids their address.

"After this incident, that was my first priority," she says. "I posted a list of emergency contact numbers along with our home address on the refrigerator first thing."

She also taught her kids not to be afraid to ask a neighbor for assistance, and to always use a home phone rather than a cell phone when calling for help. "Moms should always prepare themselves and their children, because you never know when the unthinkable will happen," she concludes.

"I know I wasn't prepared when it happened to me."

How do we educate kids about emergency situations without scaring them? Mom•Logic spoke with Greg Stockton, Health and Safety Manager at the American Red Cross, for pointers.

• Tackling the topic: Asking questions is the easiest way to talk to kids about emergency situations. "Have you ever had something in your throat that made you start coughing?" is a good conversation starter. From there, ask them to try to remember what it felt like. Explain how sometimes an object can get stuck in a person's throat, stopping them from breathing--allow that to be your transition to teaching them how they can help a person in that situation, said Stockton.

• Calling 9-1-1: "A child can begin to learn about calling 9-1-1 as soon as he or she is able to communicate understandably and is able to recognize numbers to dial on the phone," Stockton said. American Red Cross programs typically start teaching children to dial once they've reached kindergarten. Make sure kids know their address and telephone number, too.

• If a grownup is choking: Red Cross programs introduce children as young as 5 to techniques that help a choking person. Instead of the traditional Heimlich, the official Red Cross method is a series of five back blows and five abdominal thrusts.

• If a grownup is not breathing: Doing CPR requires a child to be more fully developed than assisting a conscious choking person. A child can perform effective CPR as early as age 11.

Would your child know what to do in an emergency?

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2 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jenala April 17, 2008, 9:30 PM

What a harrowing story…That mother is so lucky to be alive!

Golf September 21, 2010, 12:39 AM

In associated reports, the Wayans brothers need to cast Tiger woods in their subsequent film but they cannot determine if the title really should be White Chicks eleven or 12 ?

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