First Official 911 Hero
3-Year-Old Sarah Cousins of San Diego, CA, USA
The story on Sarah and her mother Karen was aired on NBC’s Dateline January 20, 2000.
At the age of 19, Sarah’s Mother (Karen) contracted a near deadly virus. Since that time, she has developed severe epileptic seizures. Sometimes these seizures are so bad that Karen can’t breathe and she blacks out. “That’s frightening, especially if you’re a single mother with a 3-year-old daughter.”
Karen knew that someday her life might depend on Sarah knowing what to do if one of these seizures occurred while they were alone. Therefore, Karen taught Sarah what to do. First she should call her name, then shake her mommy and try to wake her up. If that didn’t work then Sarah would have to call 911 for assistance.
Karen purchased a toy phone and decided to use it to teach Sarah how to call 911. Sarah was too young to really understand the numbers, so Karen taught Sarah the pattern (opposite corners) to call 911. Just like Special Agent 911 is doing at the top of this page.
At that time little did Karen realize that she would owe her life to Sarah understanding of what she had taught Sarah to do.
In April 1999, the moment Karen feared most happened. She had a severe seizure and blacked out. Just like clockwork, little Sarah called her name and shook her mommy, trying without success to wake her up. Sarah knew what to do, she called 911.
911 Dispatcher Pat McNew from the San Diego Sheriff’s office took the call. She asked Sarah some important questions and after determining it was a real emergency and not a nuisance call , Pat dispatched the emergency rescue unit.
Pat McNew could not believe how calm and detailed Sarah was. Pat said; “Many times, when adults are calling about an emergency, they get excited. They're screaming, they're difficult to understand, she was calm”.
The paramedics arrived at the scene and revived Karen with no long-term damage from the episode. Little Sarah, saved her Mother’s Life and to quote her mother Karen; “She is a little hero, don’t you think?”