Libby hugged her cat tightly as she watched over her mum and waited for St John paramedics to arrive.

Just moments before, the 10-year-old had been woken by her mum, Karen Symons, making a strange noise in her sleep.

Libby jumped out of bed and raced into her mum's room to find her having a seizure.
Despite being "scared and worried" she wasted no time dialling 111 to get help for her mum.

Libby was just one of the 410 children under 16 who made emergency 111 calls to St John in the year to March. Of those calls, 321 of them related to life threatening and urgent situations such as cardiac arrest.


"I'm so proud of Libby for knowing what to do during what must have been a very scary situation for her. I don't think she's aware of how impressive her response was," her mum said.

In late March 2016 St John started recording how many emergency 111 calls came from children.

Of the calls, 207 came from the Auckland region. Many of the callers described patients having all or some of the following symptoms: breathing problems, appearing unconscious, having chest pain, having had a fall or suffering from a seizure.

Director of community health services Sarah Manley said the results were "impressive".

"These days children watch a lot of international online and television productions where emergency numbers are not 111, so it's very reassuring to know that the message is getting through and, at times of extreme stress, children know what number to call and can access life-saving St John services."

Since 2015 the ASB St John in Schools programme, which was designed to give children the skills and confidence to take action in an emergency, had been delivered to 270,252 pre-school and primary school children.

In their own words

Karen Symons is a hard-working Mum who, between Christmas 2016 and New Year 2017, was literally struck down twice with unprecedented seizures.
At home with her on the night of her second shock seizure was 10 year-old daughter Libby.



"Dear Ambulance,

"My name is Libby, I live in Whangarei and I like horse riding, reading, writing and video games.

"I had to call the ambulance for my mum this is what happened.

"I was sleeping and I heard my mum make a weird sound, I realised that's the sound she made before her previous seisors [sic], so I jumped out of bed grabbed my phone and ran into her room.

"I timed her cessor [sic] and crawled to her phone (it was in front of her and she was moving her arms).

"I called the ambulance off her phone and explained what was happening.

"I was scared and worried.

"The 111 operator was nice and helpful, I then became a bit less scared as the ambulance arrived.. My cat seemed upset to, so I hugged her till the ambulance officers arrived.

"The ambulance officers were nice and made me feel a bit less scared."

"I don't remember much from the morning my daughter called 111. I remember opening my eyes to see St John paramedics standing over me and my 10 year old daughter looking very worried behind them.

"One of the main things I remember is the extreme kindness of the paramedics. The care they showed both myself and my daughter was amazing. They were kind, understanding, respectful, and re-assured my very worried daughter that I was okay.

"As only myself and my daughter were at home, they also took very good care of her while they were taking me to hospital. My daughter has said that she was terrified because of my medical incident and the paramedics made her feel 'a lot less scared'. For that I am incredibly grateful and can't thank them enough.

"Our experience with my recent medical incidents has really highlighted the importance of children knowing to call 111 in an emergency and knowing what vital information to provide.

"Libby had witnessed the same medical incident the day before and had taken notice of the information provided to the 111 operator and paramedics by my 21 year old son [who had moved to Paihia that afternoon], and she stayed calm enough to remember what information to provide when she had to call 111.

"She was able to give St John the information they needed to help me in the best way, including telling them our correct location.

"I am incredibly proud of her for remaining calm in what was a terrifying situation for her and for staying focused on the importance of the information she had to provide to the 111 operator, the paramedics and then the doctors at the hospital.

"My father was a policeman for 45 years and a fireman for most of that time as well, so I have had some experience with emergency services during my lifetime.

"As a result, I have always tried to teach both my children about the NZ 111 service and the value of all emergency services but, as I have always stayed reasonably fit and healthy, I never expected that they would need to call 111 for me."