Girl’s courage a reminder of how to handle emergencies

Published 11:22 am Monday, April 8, 2013

With the nature of my job, I have the privilege of reporting about many different topics for the stories I write.

Although the headlines for my stories often include things about local government meetings or crime, I had the opportunity to write an uplifting story and meet a new friend that quickly became an inspiration to me and many others.

Last Thursday, I interviewed Carlee Desmond, a 10-year-old who exhibited a tremendous amount of bravery on March 26 when she helped save her dad’s life as he was having a seizure.

The story appeared in our Friday edition of The Clanton Advertiser and detailed the fateful morning when Carlee found her dad, Jimmy Desmond, having a seizure in the living room of the family’s home in Clanton.

Carlee and her sister, Caylee, 6, were both at home due to spring break and had given up a trip to visit their grandmother to stay at home with their dad who was not feeling well.

Carlee found her dad having a seizure and calmly called 911 for help.

She also made sure her sister Caylee did not see their father having the seizure for fear the image of him would frighten her.

When I interviewed Carlee, she described having a small element of fear for her father but knowing the whole time she had to remain calm and take control of the situation.

Once help arrived on the scene, Carlee called her mom, Christy, who was at work to let her know what had happened.

In a situation that is normally hectic and rational thoughts are hard to come by, Carlee stayed calm with an element of maturity well beyond her years.

Thankfully, Jimmy Desmond is now OK, doctors were not able to locate the reason for the seizure, and Carlee had the opportunity to meet the 911 dispatcher, Brooke, who took her call.

Carlee was able to meet other staff members on duty at the 911 facility and see how the calling process works during the event of an emergency as well as listen to an actual 911 call.

Chilton County E911 director Dan Wright said Carlee did an excellent job when calling 911.

“She remained calm and listened to the instructions provided by the dispatcher,” Wright said. “She provided specific information to the dispatcher, most importantly her address and this demonstrated Carlee had excellent coaching in what to do when calling 911.”

Wright said that April is 911 Education Month with a focus on four topics including, when to call 911, what to know about calling 911, technology available to Chilton County 911 and educating children on the use of 911.

When I interviewed Christy, she mentioned that she had occasionally touched on what to do in the event of an emergency with both of her girls but never knew if they were listening.

Thankfully, Carlee had not only listened to her mother, but she remembered specifics of what she needed to do and not only saved her dad’s life, but took control of a difficult situation.

She knew she needed to quickly get to a phone for help, to call 911 and report the emergency, she knew her address so that dispatchers could locate her, she knew she needed to take care of her sister so she wouldn’t be scared, she knew to wait and call her mom until the emergency had been reported and she knew that she needed to remain calm during the situation.

Carlee’s story was an inspiration to me and I hope that her determination, care and bravery will help others remember what to do in the event of an emergency.

Emily Etheredge is a staff writer for The Clanton Advertiser. She can be reached at