A Westmoreland family is praising an 8-year-old's quick thinking.
The third-grader's call to 911 Saturday helped save his mother's life, serving as a reminder for parents that it's never too early to teach children proper emergency response.
Gage and his mother, Sheila O'Neal, were watching cartoons Saturday morning at their Westmoreland home. That's the last thing the mother remembers before her sister-in-law Patricia Williams asked her:
"Are you ready to go?"
"Go where?" O'Neal asked.
"Sheila, you had a seizure," Williams answered.
"Who called the ambulance?" asked O'Neal.
"Gage did," Williams said.
"It's the right thing to do," Gage said a few days later. "My dad taught me to call 911 for emergencies only, and I was the only one there with my mom."
O'Neal was transported to Sumner Regional Medical Center in Gallatin. Released from the hospital, she was getting into her husband's truck when she had another seizure. She was immediately taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. She was released at 2 a.m. Sunday after a normal CAT scan and increased seizure medicine.
"We thought it was stress," said O'Neal, 45, who is seeing a neurologist on Tuesday.
The mother had had two seizures in 2013, after which the family taught Gage to call 911 if it happened again. Saturday is when he put that lesson into action.
"I am very proud of him, very proud," O'Neal said. "I could've laid here and died."
'He is our hero'
The boy has also had some emergency response lessons at his Union Elementary STEM and Demonstration School in Gallatin. Personnel with the Gallatin Fire Department visit Union and other area schools once a year to teach a 911 program. Extra lessons at home, however, won't hurt, Union Principal Danny Sullivan said.
"It's also important for parents to teach their children what to do in an emergency situation and have a plan of action," Sullivan said. "And not only to tell them but also to show them what to do because in this case Gage saved his mother's life. We're glad he had the confidence to call 911. It's very admirable; I'm very proud."
Gage has made his whole family grateful.
"He is our hero," O'Neal's sister Sherry Shaub said. "God surely blessed our family."
Meanwhile, the experience has given Gage a career aspiration. When asked what he wants to be when he grows up and why, the boy answered, "A person who helps at the hospital because I want to help people."
Reach Dessislava Yankova at 575-7170 and on Twitter @desspor.