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Lisa's column

DEC 28

December 28, 2001

Emergency information saves the day

Teaching Your Child | By Lisa Tedrick Prejean


Alec Morris is an energetic, sharp-as-a-tack first-grader at Salem Avenue Elementary School in Hagerstown.

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He proudly shares new words he's learning in reading class, talks about skateboarding and likes playing video games.

The 6-year-old also knows how to recognize the signs of a diabetic reaction.

On a recent school morning, Alec woke up and went into his father's bedroom. The alarm was buzzing, and Alec's dad, Scott Morris, was on the floor.

After attempting to rouse his dad, Alec decided he should call his grandma, Bernadine Morris. His mom, Amy Morris, had already left for her job at First Data. Alec dialed his grandma's number.

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"Come and help me. I can't get Daddy up," he said.

His grandma told him she'd be right over.

Alec heard his baby brother, Ashton, crying, so he lifted the 13-month-old out of his crib and got him some juice in a sippy cup.

When his grandma arrived, she called 911.

Alec continued to help by distracting the baby, going to the kitchen for orange juice for his dad and keeping an eye out for the paramedics.

"He was quite calm through it all," Bernadine Morris said.

His dad, who was taken to the emergency room and released a few hours later, said he vaguely remembers that morning.

"I felt really tired. I was fading off, blacking out. I remember Alec hollering for me."

He also heard the baby crying.

"The whole right side of my body - I couldn't move it. My whole face on the right side was numb."

Scott, who works at Tony's Pizza in Williamsport, said he's grateful for his son's reaction.

"I told him he was my hero."

The next day when Alec went to school, he gave his teacher, Linda Green, a note explaining why he was absent.

"I asked him if he'd like to tell the class what had happened," Green said.

The class listened intently.

"Their eyes were wide open," Green said. "The kids told him, 'You did a good thing.' I told them, 'Alec is a hero. This is what heroes do.'

"He could have sat there and cried and done nothing. He took on what some adults wouldn't do. That's very mature for a 6-year-old."

After Alec shared his experience, Green went around the room and asked her students to recite their addresses. Many of them knew the name of the street where they live but not the street number.

That's an important thing to teach a child in case he has to call 911, Green says.

A child should also know the name and number of the closest relative or neighbor who should be called if help is needed.

He should also be taught the first and last names of the adults living in your household. (He'll need to know more than Mommy, Daddy or Grandma if there's an emergency.)

If parents have different last names, make sure your child knows this as well.

Just as families should have a plan on how to deal with a fire emergency in the home, they should also have a plan on what to do if there's a medical emergency, said Bonnie Distad, school health program manager at Washington County Health Department.

"A lot of times families can help children accept medical conditions by talking about what to do if something happens instead of not talking about it and then scaring their children," Distad said. "My hat's off to that family. They must have talked about what to do.

"That's very responsible of the family."

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at lisap@herald-mail.com.

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