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A three-year-old boy from West Midlands, U.K. dialed police after his mom fell unconscious earlier this month, having picked up the skill from an unlikely source: a YouTube cartoon. The heroic toddler’s impressive abilities, especially in a time of crisis, underscores the life-saving potential of teaching children how to handle emergencies from a young age.
According to The Independent, toddler Thomas Boffey dialed 999 (the U.K.’s equivalent to 911) after his mom, 33-year-old Kayleigh Boffey, fell down the stairs. Upon hitting her head, the mom reportedly lost consciousness.
Because he had watched Robocar Poli—an animated kids’ show from South Korea that features a police car, ambulance, and fire engine—Boffey knew to call 999. The toddler, speaking to operator Morgane Amphlett, said his “mummy fell upstairs” before putting the semi-conscious Kayleigh on the line.
“He climbed up onto my windowsill in the living room to get my phone and he managed to [phone] the operator,” said Kayleigh. “They couldn’t understand what he was on about but directed him to the police.”
As they waited for police to arrive, Amphlett had Boffey hold his mother’s hand and continue talking to her, per a news release from the West Midlands police. The child also managed to climb over a childproof baby gate, search for a key to their house, and unlock the door for emergency services, noted The Independent.
With Kayleigh’s permission, the West Midlands police has since released an audio clip from Boffey’s 999 call, found here, “in the hope more parents will teach their children what to do in an emergency.”
As pediatric healthcare system Nemours Children’s Health noted, when learning about calling 911 (or its equivalent), children should first understand what constitutes an emergency. Explained their guidelines: “Teach kids that a 911 emergency is when someone needs help right away because of an injury or an immediate danger.”
The organization added that because “kids may feel scared or nervous if they have to call 911,” it’s important to explain that “emergency operators…talk to a lot of kids who are nervous or worried when they call.”
Following the incident, Kayleigh was taken to a hospital for treatment: she reportedly sustained knee, ankle, shoulder, and hip injuries in the fall. “I knocked myself out and he managed to ring for help—it was amazing really,” said the mom, reported the The Independent. “Words [can’t] describe it. I’m extremely proud of him.”
“I want people to know what my son did and how important it is to [teach] kids what to do if anything happens in an emergency,” she added.