Eight-year-old Gelila Aedmasu woke up on August 16 to find her mother lying on the floor, unresponsive.
The second-grader could see her mother was not well. At first, she got her some water and food, but her mother was in and out of consciousness. The quick-thinking second-grader thought back to the training she received at school, picked up her mother’s cellphone and called 9-1-1.
Communications Operator Michelle Everest answered Gelila’s call.
“At first I was shocked because I couldn’t understand what she was saying and whether it was a medical emergency,” said Everest. “But that only lasted a few seconds and I got her calm and she answered every question.”
Everest was able to get Gelila’s address, her phone number, her mother’s name (Fantaye Berhanu) and age, as well as determine if her siblings were okay. They were. And Gelila also reassure her mom that everything would be okay and help was on the way.
“She knew what to do and she followed every instruction without question, which is a dream for us,” said Everest, of the minutes before paramedics arrived to assist the mother who had passed out due to low blood pressure.
Gelila’s classroom teacher for two years, Vicky Kanarellis, said that the young girl has been great at following instructions in class too.
“Gelila was a remarkable student; she was always attentive… and it was very important to her to follow instructions. She always acted quickly but she also knew when it was time to be serious and time to play, so she was a very well-rounded individual,” said Kanarellis.
“I am very proud of her,” added her teacher.
“Last year, we were talking about different emergency procedures we would do in case of an emergency,” explains George Vatzolas, Gelila’s health teacher last year. The elementary students were taught who to call in case something happened at home, and they were also taught to stay calm, said Vatzolas.
Gelila received a letter of commendation from 41 Division Superintendent John Tanouye as well as a Toronto Police sweater. She received an award for bravery from her school and was also recognized by Toronto Paramedic Services.
Everest was given an awards recommendation by Tanouye as well.
“Teaching your kids what 9-1-1 is used for is excellent,” said Superintendent Tanouye, adding that Gelila’s younger brother and sister also now know what 9-1-1 is. Tanouye has submitted both Everest and Gelila for a Saint John’s Ambulance award.
Gelila’s quick thinking and bravery paid off for her classmates too – they all got cupcakes (decorated to spell 9-1-1) from Communications Services as well as a pizza lunch.
When asked what she was happiest about, after a morning of awards, cupcakes and pizza, the eight-year old replied: “I am happy my mom is okay.”
I am happy my mom is okay.