Katie Lee may only be 8 years old, but to her mom, she’s a hero.
Katie’s mother, Laurie Lee, recently fell down the stairs at the family’s Fort Hunt home and required emergency medical treatment for a gash to her forehead. The second-grader took charge of the situation, calling 911 and patiently explaining her mother’s predicament.
“I heard a fall, and I was like, ‘Mom, are you OK?’” Katie said. “And she was bleeding, and I just felt like I had to call 911, and then I did. … I just wanted to save her life.”
The Fairfax County Department of Public Safety Communications honored Katie in front of more than 300 of her classmates Wednesday at with the 911 Citizen Lifesaver Award. Katie is only the third person to have received the award.
Students reviewed a video on how to call 911 before the award presentation. They also listened to a recording of Katie’s call to 911. In the call, she remained cool and collected, telling the dispatcher her age and what happened to her mother.
“Most adults are not that calm,” said 911 dispatcher Carolyn Kellam, who took Katie’s call and presented her with the award Wednesday. “I’ve been doing this about 25 years, and she is by far one of the most calm and articulate people I’ve talked to—adults included.”
Laurie Lee required seven stitches to her forehead, and she’s had multiple doctor’s appointments since the accident. She choked up Wednesday when describing how her daughter acted in the emergency.
“It took me by surprise that she was so calm, because her little brother was not,” she said. “But she did very good.”
Katie said she was nervous about calling 911 but felt better after the ambulance arrived and she knew her mom was going to be alright. She’s learned at home and at school when it’s appropriate to call for emergency help, she said.
“When you hear something and are like, ‘Mommy, or Dad, are you OK?’ And they say 'no,' and you say what happened, and if it’s an emergency you just call 911,” Katie said. “If it’s not, and they say they are OK, you can just help them.”
Her teacher, Elizabeth Phillips, described Katie as a student who takes life in stride. She wasn’t surprised to hear the calm in Katie’s voice during the 911 recording.
“She’s always so calm and poised, very responsible, follows the rules,” Phillips said. “She’s never off-track. She’s always focused, paying attention, and just loves to share about what she’s learned and its connections to her life and everything. She’s a great all-around student.”