In one of his most famous poems, If, Rudyard Kipling gave the best definition of courage ever set down in the English language.
“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs.”
Kipling’s poem was a meditation about what it is like to be a man. However, courage and cool-headedness under stress are not unique to the male sex.
Gentle readers, we give you five-year-old Savannah. According to the American Daily Patriot:
“…five-year-old Savannah and her father were at home alone together when her father began having severe chest pains.
“Savannah knew just what to do and called 911.
The 911 dispatcher calmly walked the young girl through a series of questions and helped her handle the situation until help could arrive.”
No doubt, the dispatcher was relieved and laughing when the call ended.
Savannah calmly told the dispatcher what was going on, how old she was, and her name.
She added, “You need to come real fast.”
At the request of the dispatcher, Savannah went to unlock the front door but not before saying, ‘Don’t worry Dad!’
She asked Savanna if her dad had ever had this happen before.
Savannah replied, “No, so far so good.”
Savannah only seemed worried about being dressed appropriately for the ambulance. The rest of the time she was cool and collected as she encouraged her father and spoke with the 911 dispatcher.
“’Ok. We’re in our jammies…and I’m in a tank top. So…I’ll have to get dressed,’ Savannah told the dispatcher.
“I don’t know what I’m gonna wear, but he really needs oxygen, real fast. Yes, the door’s unlocked.”
She told the dispatcher that she would be in her room getting dressed, but he asked her to stay with her dad to ensure that he stays awake.
Savannah continued offering information for the dispatcher.
“And…we have a dog…that’s really…um…small, she added. He’s friendly…He kind of barks.”
“Stay calm, Dad,” Savannah says after she calls the dog over.
Anyone who has had to call 911 knows the fear of the situation that requires it. A loved one in medical distress or an intruder trying to break into the home are among the most frightful situations that can occur to someone.
In those cases, 911 is literally a lifeline, calling first responders as quickly as possible to deal with the crisis.
911 operators are trained to make those long, agonizing minutes between the call and when the first responders appear to pass as quickly as possible.
Sometimes they can add instructions, such as do chest compressions or retreat to another room and lock the door. Always they have to remain calm.
There is a story of one 911 operator who had the worse call imaginable. The day was September 11, 2001. An operator got a call from a young woman who was trapped on a high floor in one of the twin towers.
The woman pleaded for help because flames were starting to inch ever closer to her and the room she was in was filled with smoke. The operator knew that there could be no help for the person on the other end.
All the operator could do was to recite the Lord’s Prayer with the doomed woman, who shortly passed – mercifully – from smoke inhalation.
Happily, the 911 call ended better from Savannah and her dad.
The EMTs arrived, stabilized Savannah’s father, and took him to the hospital. The little girl’s dad lived, thanks to the quick thinking and calm actions of his daughter.
People tend not to remember events that happen before they are about five years old unless they are memorable or in some way traumatic.
Savannah has the gift, which may also be a burden, of having one of her first memories were of the time that she saved her father’s life. She may not have known, at that time, any concept of the finality of death.
But she will learn that death is forever in due course and will come to understand the enormity of what she did.
One would like to think that as she grows up, Savannah will be able to draw strength from what she did, because that time when her dad was groaning on the floor, wondering if he had seen his last hour, will likely be only the first time she will need her courage.
It can be presumed that she will face those future trials with as much calmness and alacrity as she did at age five, an age when one should never have to look death in the face.
But this time, death was defeated by a little girl.