Courage in stressful situations and the desire to help the most vulnerable comes in many sizes and shapes.
Mykayla, a seven-year-old St. Albert girl, kept her cool after her grandmother fell on ice and dislocated her shoulder in - 20 C weather.
On Friday, March 11, Alberta Health Services Emergency Medical Services presented her with a Youth Citizen Award for outstanding care and courage. It was only the second youth award presented in the last 12 months.
“It is given to a youth under emergency situations who shows extra bravery and courage in calling EMS. We like to recognize youth so they can understand how much we appreciate them,” said Jillian Maier, public education officer, Edmonton zone EMS.
Mykayla’s initial response to the award was simply, “I’m happy.” But after a bit of probing, the Grade 2 student admitted, “I was feeling nervous and a little scared. I wasn’t really sure I wanted to come. I’ve never been somewhere like this before.”
The horrible adventure started on a calm but freezing cold Sunday morning. Mykala and Cynthia, her grandmother, returned from church and stopped to pick up mail at their superbox. While Mykala sat in the car parked in front of the mailbox, Cynthia navigated the ice-covered sidewalk.
“I reached into my pocket to get the key and the next thing I knew, I was on the ground. I was surprised there was no feeling in my left arm. Cars were going by but they couldn’t see me,” said Cynthia. “My first thought was I was paralyzed. I tried moving my left arm and it felt detached. I was really scared and thought it might be severed.”
The situation was extremely dire as Cynthia’s feet were wedged under the mailbox. Sitting in the car, Mykayla was listening to music unable to hear her grandmother’s cries for help. When Cynthia failed to return, Mykayla jumped out to investigate.
“I’d never seen grandma like this before. I knew she was hurt,” said the young girl, who normally enjoys calmer moments playing sports, reading, drawing, and crafts.
Sprinting to the nearest house, she rang the doorbell. When no one answered, Mykayla returned, asked her grandmother for the cell phone. She texted her mother, who was at work, and dialed 911.
“She gave [EMS] our address and told them about the mailbox. She described how to get there and described the cars parked on the street and that’s how they were able to find them,” said Malini, Mykayla’s mother.
Bill Hilton, an Edmonton-based paramedic, was the first to arrive. The dispatcher put out a call as a no-lights, no-siren, non-serious fall. Normally Hilton, who was nearby, would not have answered. But because of the extreme cold, he responded.
“When I turned down the street, the snowbanks were so high, I couldn’t see them. When I arrived, another lady was there and offered to help. I asked her to get blankets out of my truck. At least it would keep the wind off. I assessed Cynthia and asked Mykayla to support her grandma. Once I determined the situation, I called an ambulance and requested a quick response,” said Hilton.
Hilton and Malini arrived almost at the same time.
“Until she saw her mum, she was very business-like. Then when she saw her mum, she lost it and started crying,” said Cynthia, whose own pain was increasing by the minute.
Hilton added, “It wasn’t until that time, I saw the tears and she could relax and be seven again. Up to that point, she was telling me where Grandma hurt. She was very stoic up to that point.”
An ambulance with lights flashing and a siren blaring quickly responded.
“Attendants maneuvered her onto the spine board. It was difficult. There wasn’t a lot of room. There were snow windrows on either side and there wasn’t a lot of room to maneuver,” he added.
Mykayla’s thoughts were always with her grandmother. “I wasn’t sure I wanted her to go to the hospital. I didn’t feel like leaving her.”
Emergency X-rays later revealed a displaced humerus fracture in the left arm. It happens when the ball of the ball-and-socket shoulder joint is broken.
At the award presentation, Cynthia couldn’t stop beaming with pride.
“I was taken aback by the way she dealt with it. I lay there in total shock. I was distraught, but she got the phone and called 911. I was so proud and totally amazed.”
When Mykayla related her adventure to school friends, they responded with the kindness of innocents.
“They were surprised and speechless. They just hugged me and said, ‘Give that to your grandma,’" she said.
And as part of the reward, Mykayla enjoyed turning on an ambulance siren.