It's been a busy month for Frankie Ford Jr. The Commercial Township, N.J., first-grader is credited with saving his mother's life after she went into respiratory arrest from a severe asthma attack on Jan. 19. Since then, Frankie has received a hero's plaque from the local 9-1-1 dispatch unit, a brand new bike, and some time in the media spotlight.
But the best gift so far has been his mom's health.
"He's my little hero," Debbie Ford, who has fully recovered since the incident, told NBCPhiladelphia.com on Monday. "I wouldn’t be here right now if it wasn’t for him."
It was 7:15 a.m. on that school morning in January when Frankie, the oldest of three boys, noticed something was wrong with his mom. His father had already left for work, so Frankie picked up the phone and called 9-1-1.
"Please... my mom's dying," Frankie cried.
The 9-1-1 operator was able to hear Ford in the background, gurgling. She asked Frankie how old he was. "I'm six years old," a panicked Frankie is heard saying.
At one point, he offered to do chest compressions.
"I got pump for you?" Frankie is heard asking on the 9-1-1 call. “My mom, for you? My mom -- my hands on her heart.”
"OK, can you feel anything?" the operator asked him.
As Frankie continued to talk with the 9-1-1 dispatcher, Ford was able to mumble the family's address as she gasped for air. Frankie stayed on the line as emergency crews rushed to their home.
"I was feeling pretty scared and sad," Frankie said on Monday. He said he told the 9-1-1 operator, "My mom can't breathe and I need your help."
When EMTs arrived, they found Ford in her bed. She had a pulse, but wasn't breathing.
“I was terrified,” Laurel Lake Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company EMT Veronica Trio said. “I was really afraid that she was not going to make it. A couple more minutes and she would have gone into cardiac arrest.”
Ford was rushed to South Jersey Healthcare Regional Medical Center in Vineland, N.J., and put on a ventilator. About a week later, she was discharged, and Trio, the EMT, reached out to the family to see how Ford was doing - and to tell them that the Laurel Lake Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company wanted to honor Frankie.
Last Monday, the Fords watched as Frankie received a wooden plaque from the fire company, an award acknowledging his "courage and quick thinking in calling 9-1-1, saving his mother's life," reported
Robert Curry, a member of the Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company, said that Frankie might not appreciate the plaque until he was older -- and suggested they present him with another award: A blue BMX mongoose bike. The crew wheeled it out for him and Frankie jumped on the seat.
Frankie doesn't talk about the rescue, but according to TheDailyJournal.com, wrote this in a thank you note to the EMTs: “Dear Ambulance People, Thank you for saving my mom. When I grow up and get big, I want to be a ambulance person too.”
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