When Rachel Sheynblat’s grandmother stopped responding to her, she knew she needed to get help.
The 6-year-old — who was in the backseat of the car — ripped a cell phone out of her grandmother’s hand and handed it to her brother Ethan to call for help.
“It was really scary,” Rachel said. “She was shaking”
Rachel’s grandmother was having a seizure, according to the child’s mother Regina Sheynblat, and because they were in the car, neither authorities, nor Regina could locate the vehicle.
Burlingame dispatcher Christine Granucci, who worked the day of the call, said Rachel, Ethan and their friend Tamer remained calm during the 12-minute conversation. She did, however, admit that it was difficult to find them.
“We try to remain calm,” she said. “From what I recall dealing with kids, of course they were scared but very mature and
handled it well.”
During the emergency call, dispatchers asked the children for addresses and streets, but the kids became confused. When the children were asked to read the vehicle’s license plate, though, emergency crews were able to locate them.
Central County Fire Chief Don Dornell said educating children in school about the use of 911 pays off, especially in a situation like this.
“One of my fire companies had been to the kids’ school as part of public education to teach them about safety and 911,” he said “This shows it does work. The kids did the appropriate thing.”
Dornell said although it took some time to locate the kids — numbers and street names had also matched a location in Belmont — the children remained calm and attentive to the questions asked by the dispatcher.
“We were eventually able to locate them,” he said. “The three of them did a great job. And I think grandma’s doing fine.”
Ethan said he learned how to use 911 in school, but had not had to use it before. In this emergency he called his mother first, then 911 for medical help.
Regina said she was grateful the kids knew to call 911 because otherwise, the result could’ve been different.
“It could’ve been much worse,” she said.
Because of their actions, the Burlingame City Council honored the children this month with a stuffed dog, a hat and a certificate of bravery.
A Web site about kids’ health tries to explain to kids when to call 911 and when not to.
When to call 911
- If there’s been a car accident
- If you see a crime, like someone hurting someone else or breaking into a house
- If someone suddenly seems very sick and is having a hard time speaking or breathing or turns blue
- If someone collapses or passes out
- If a house is on fire
When not to call 911
- You can’t find your favorite toy or your homework from last night
- Your cat got into a fight with another cat
- Your brother or your friend dares you to call
- You have a nasty hangnail