Young Waldorf resident honored for saving mom’s life with one phone call
For 8-year-old A’Nasia Clayton, one calm phone call to 911 would save her mother’s life.
On Sept. 27, Charles County commissioners recognized A’Nasia, the 911 dispatcher and Janée Clayton’s rescuing personnel with lifesaving awards during their meeting.
On Aug. 16, Janée Clayton of Waldorf began showing signs of a stroke. Her daughter calmly called 911 and explained the situation to communications staff. With the assistance of A’Nasia and emergency personnel, Janée is alive and well today.
“I thought she was sick,” A’Nasia said. “I was nervous but I was calm. I kept checking on Mommy, then checking outside to see if the ambulance was here yet.”
“Prior to her calling the ambulance she looked at me and said my face was turning to the side,” Janée said. “I felt it happening since the night before. My daughter said something is not right with me. Then, as I was walking downstairs, I just lost all feeling on the left side of my body and could barely move. I slid all the way down the steps, A’Nasia got a chair for me and I got from there to the couch. Then she said she’s going to call 911.”
Janée said she does not remember her daughter’s conversation with the dispatcher, but it is one that Ronald Lucas won’t forget.
“The first thing she said was, ‘I think my mom’s having a stroke,’” Lucas said. “Next we have to go through our protocol and I realized this girl was sharper than any other adult that I’ve talked to. She reported exactly what was happening with her mom.”
Lucas said he used stroke diagnostic tools, telling A’Nasia to ask her mom to smile, having her ask her mom to raise her arms, and then having her mom say “the early bird catches the worm,” which was garbled. The phrase is referred to as the Cincinnati Pre-Hospital Stroke Scale.
“She had clear evidence of a stroke,” Lucas said. “I could hear A’Nasia talking to her mom and I tried to calm her down, but she was keeping me more calm than I was keeping her. Once the ambulance got there, I let her talk to the ambulance [crew]. They took her mother as priority one, which is a truly life-threatening emergency, to the hospital.”
The EMTs first took Janée to University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center in La Plata before she was transported to MedStar Georgetown University Hospital for treatment.
In 2006, Janée was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy, a paralysis or weakness of the muscles on one side of the face. The damage to the facial nerve controlling muscles on one side of the face causes that side to droop. This condition comes on suddenly — often overnight — and usually gets better on its own within a few weeks. Because of her previous case of Bell’s palsy, Janée said she taught her daughter the symptoms of a stroke in case it ever happened. However, Janée said she knew it couldn’t be the same diagnosis.
“My headache became more painful than it was when I had Bell’s palsy,” Janée said. “My hand numbed up and balled into a fist. I knew it was something more but I couldn’t even say it.”
Janée said the first time she heard the recording of her daughter speaking with the dispatcher was just a few weeks ago, while watching her own story on the news.
“My eyes filled with tears when I heard it,” Janée said. “I couldn’t believe that she did such an amazing job. I was super proud of her after I heard it. I couldn’t do nothing else but sit there, hug her and kiss her. I taught her to be aware of her surroundings so that if anything happens to her, she knows how to do to find her way to safety. And she’s always been the type of child that is willing to help somebody.”
“Her mother probably could have become permanently paralyzed,” Lucas said. “As severe as her stroke was, she probably could have died so she really saved her mom’s life. She was so sharp, keen and impressive.”
Janée said she has been feeling a little bit better every day with the help of her daughter.
“Everyone said I was brave,” A’Nasia said.
A’Nasia was excited to meet the Charles County commissioners and be recognized for her lifesaving efforts. She received a standing ovation from the crowd after the commissioners shared her story.
According to Charles County Department of Emergency Services, A’Nasia has inspired the formation of an in-school teaching program of 911 protocol and are petitioning the Maryland Emergency Numbers Systems Board for funding to purchase a 911 simulator. The department believes it would take away the initial fear of a child calling 911 and more children would be able to practice what to do in an emergency situation.
A’Nasia Clayton, 8, dispatcher Ronald Lucas, left, and paramedic Paul Lenharr were recognized by the Charles County commissioners at the Charles County Government building with lifesaving awards on Sept. 27. Janée Clayton, center, stands with her daughter.
On Sept. 27, Waldorf resident Janée Clayton stands with her daughter, A’Nasia Clayton, 8, who called 911 and explained her mother’s suspected stroke to dispatcher Ronald Lucas, right, at the Charles County Government Building.