There are some things you just don’t keep around the house, particularly if it is an item associated with something really scary that has happened.
The “something” the Mosby family of St. Louis, Missouri (USA), avoids is an oval-shaped chip that landed in the hands of their two-year-old toddler in one of those hurried moments between fixing and serving lunch on a weekend.
Mom—Leann Mosby—had left the room briefly and in that instant she heard her daughter—Blaire—gasp. She ran back into the room. Blaire was slumped over. She couldn’t breathe; she couldn’t answer when Leann screamed her name. Blaire was turning blue. The little girl had swallowed the chip, and it was blocking her airway. Leann unstrapped Blaire from the highchair and ran for a neighbor’s home, carrying the unconscious toddler in her arms.
“I was screaming for anyone to help,” she said. “I thought I was going to lose her.”
The subsequent 911 call was answered by St. Louis Fire Department EMD Ann Grady.
“Mom was frantic,” Grady said. “Her baby was choking.”
The neighbor took the phone while Leann followed Grady’s EMD instructions. She started CPR. In moments, Blaire let out a sigh and opened her eyes.
“I knew she was going to be OK,” Leann said.1
Leann credits Grady’s professionalism and “stern directness” in saving her daughter.
“She was very pointed in what she needed me to do,” she said.2
Grady is a mother of four children, and that experience, combined with her 13 years in emergency dispatch, brought out her stern “no nonsense” voice.
“I basically told her what she had to do,” Grady said.
It wasn’t until after the call on Aug. 26, 2018, that Grady learned about an unforeseen affiliation. Blaire is the daughter of St. Louis Fire Department PIO Capt. Garon Mosby. He was away at a conference, and Leann was home alone with Blaire for the weekend. Of course, knowing the connection during the call wouldn’t have changed anything about the help Grady provided.
“Finding out it’s one of your own does make it more memorable,” Grady said. “No matter who it is, we do what we’ve got to do to help.”
Although Leann was on an emotional rollercoaster for several days following the incident, Garon convinced her to go public with their story. After all, he is a well-known face and voice of the St. Louis Fire Department, and the experience could encourage a greater awareness of CPR and the importance of emergency communications dispatch. The family hosted an appreciation dinner that included the neighbor, the response team, and first and foremost Blaire and Grady.
“Ann is our hero,” said Capt. Mosby, who was an active firefighter prior to accepting the promotion to public information officer. “She is a lifesaver, and we are very grateful for her.”
Grady said her gratification for emergency dispatch comes from the ability to help someone.
“I feel good about that,” she said. “I really do.”
The Mosby’s family emergency is not an isolated case. Choking is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality among children, especially those who are three years of age or younger due to the anatomy of a child’s airway and the underdeveloped ability to chew and swallow food; choking on food causes the death of approximately one child every five days in the U.S.3
According to a policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics: Because it is impossible to prevent all choking episodes among children, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and choking first aid for children should be taught to parents, teachers, child care providers, and others who care for children, particularly children at high risk of choking.4
1 “Mom saves daughter’s life.” KDSK. 2018; Sept. 3. https://www.ksdk.com/video/news/local/mom-saves-daughters-life/63-8240317 (accessed Jan. 14, 2019).
2 See note 1.
3 “Policy Statement—Prevention of Choking Among Children.” American Academy of Pediatrics. 2010; Feb. 2. pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/125/3/601.full.pdf?download=true (accessed Jan. 14, 2019).
4 See note 3.