3-year-old’s 9-1-1 call brings help to mom
January 25, 2011
Shortly before 3 p.m. on Jan. 11, 3-year-old Gracie Goss dialed 911 and told public safety dispatcher Tammy Adamson, “my mommy fell down.”
Adamson, who has a 3-year-old of her own, said she went into “mommy mode,” and kept the Gardnerville toddler on the telephone for 10 minutes as help arrived for 32-year-old Catherine Goss who had suffered a seizure.
Adamson said she realized in seconds she was dealing with a toddler.
“Gracie couldn’t give me her address,” Adamson said. “She was able to make a statement that told me it was a medical problem.
“I asked her how old she was. When she said ‘3,’ my heart about dropped. I went into my mommy mode. I said, ‘OK, what’s your name, honey?’ She said, ‘Gracie.’ She told me she was there with her 2-year-old brother. I could hear how upset the kids were.”
The enhanced 911 screen displayed the phone number and address. Gracie verified that she lived on the street that showed on the screen. Help was on the way within a minute.
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Gracie’s dad is Larry Goss, 37, East Fork Fire & Paramedic Districts training captain. He heard the emergency call come in as he was on his way to work.
“I heard my address and I immediately started to go back to the house,” Goss said in an interview Friday. “The dispatcher said she didn’t have much information but was on the phone with a 3-year-old. That’s when the adrenaline really started kicking in.”
While Adamson kept Gracie on the phone, other dispatchers put the call into service.
“I was able to tell her ‘Daddy’s coming home, Daddy’s coming home.’ That probably helped her a little,” Adamson said. “I heard her dad go into the house. I said, ‘Gracie, you did such a great job.'”
Adamson said her experience with Gracie sets a new standard in her 13-year career as a dispatcher.
“I was asking her questions and stuff, and she stayed with me the whole time on the phone. She was there with her 2-year-old little brother. I wanted to direct her to go open the door, but I was afraid her little brother might wander out,” she said.
When Goss arrived home, he parked in the street so the ambulance would have access to the residence.
“I could see that Cathy was OK. Gracie was crying a little bit. I picked her up and gave her a big hug. I told her she did a good job. Lucas was standing on the couch looking at all the fire trucks.”
Gracie was rewarded with a trip to Chuck E. Cheese and a visit to the 911 dispatch center where she met Adamson and was presented with a “Super Hero” button.
“It was really special for me to meet her, just to see her smile,” Adamson said. “It was important for me to tell her what a good job she did.”
Had Gracie not called 911, Catherine Goss said it would have been 40 minutes before her 10-year-old daughter Isabel arrived home from school. She doesn’t know the medical implications about going that long without treatment.
Gracie had learned how to dial 911 a few hours before she made the call. Catherine Goss said her 10-year-old has a list of emergency numbers, but she had a feeling that day she should try to prepare Gracie.
“I wanted to teach her how to dial her dad’s cell phone, but it was too many numbers. I put sticky notes on the phone and taught her how to dial 911,” Goss said.
Later that day, she and Gracie were working on an art project when she became ill. She doesn’t remember any details, but said Gracie took it upon herself to turn on the telephone and make the 911 call.
Gracie’s explanation of what happened is straight-forward.
“I called 911. They took Mommy to the hospital, they fixed her, and they brought her home,” Gracie said.
Catherine and her husband are traveling to University of Utah for tests this week for what she described as a chronic condition with further complications.
Her parents, Margaret and Dave Biggs, live nearby and are helping with the children in addition to making sure Catherine isn’t by herself.
Friends have established an account with Wells Fargo Bank to help with travel expenses.
Larry Goss said the family wanted to thank the East Fork Fire & Paramedic Districts, the East Fork Professional Firefighters Union, and, especially the 911 dispatchers.
“I’m just so proud of what Gracie did and Tammy (Adamson),” he said.
Goss isn’t sure she wants to hear the 911 tape.
“I woke up in the emergency room and they told me what happened. I was pretty impressed with Gracie. I know as parents we often underestimate what our kids are capable of,” Catherine said.
A few days after the incident, Gracie asked her dad where he was going.
“I told her I was on my way to work. She said, ‘You can tell everybody I’ll be here.’ She’s standing guard,” Goss said.
Catherine Goss said Gracie checks on her occasionally.
“She says, ‘You know, if you don’t talk to me, I’m going to have to call the cops again,'” Goss said.
Gracie, who will be 4 in May, keeps a sisterly eye on Lucas, too.
Does she think he could call 911?
“No,” she said. “He’s too little.”
The Goss Family Fund has been established at Wells Fargo Bank to assist with travel expenses. Donations may be made to account No. 5917 8371 88.