Autistic youngster praised for 999 call

Paramedic Bryan Stephenson presented an award to Adam Carnaffin, seen with his mum Sarah. Picture Jane Coltman
Paramedic Bryan Stephenson presented an award to Adam Carnaffin, seen with his mum Sarah. Picture Jane Coltman

A quick-thinking seven-year-old with autism has been praised for making a potentially life-saving 999 call after witnessing his mother have an epileptic fit at home.

Despite suffering from a speech and language impediment, Adam Carnaffin became the hero of the hour last Friday morning by phoning for an ambulance.

The plucky Hadston youngster, hailed as an inspiration by medical staff, held his nerve to dial the emergency services and alert them to the seizure his mum Sarah was having in the living room.

Adam did not know that the 43-year-old is registered epileptic as she had not had a fit for 10 years.

She had, however, told him the importance of calling 999, and last week the youngster put what he had been taught into action.

In honour of his efforts, Adam, an only-child, was presented with a North East Ambulance Service certificate of commendation on Tuesday.

Such accolades are rarely given out, especially to someone as young as Adam.

Sarah is incredibly proud of her boy. She said: “He is absolutely fantastic.

“He potentially saved me from something really serious.

“From what I can gather, he rang 999 and said part of our address and said that my mum is on the floor, shaking.”

Sarah bit her tongue and was bleeding as a result of her fit.

But despite Adam’s blood phobia and learning disabilities, he sprang into action to make the all-important call.

It was logged at around 8.05am and paramedics arrived soon after. Sarah had stopped fitting by then.

Felton’s Bryan Stephenson, who is paramedic team leader at Amble, attended the scene. He praised Adam’s heroics.

He said: “Adam did a wonderful job. He should be an inspiration to all children.

“For a seven-year-old, especially one with autism, to not panic when his mum was having a fit and to call 999 is absolutely tremendous.

“His actions could have been life-saving.

“His mum was out of the fit when we arrived, but she was tired and confused.

“With a fit though, you never know; if it goes on and on, it could cause permanent damage.”

Sarah, a registered nurse, is encouraging other parents to do the same as she did – drumming into Adam the importance of making 999 calls in an emergency.

“I would say to parents to always teach your child to phone 999,” she said.

“Even if they can’t say anything, let them phone 999 and the emergency services can find out where the call is coming from. It could save somebody’s life.”

The youngster attends Cleaswell Hill School, in Choppington, and he went in to school after the incident.

Later that day, he was given a special headmaster’s award for being a hero.

Proud headteacher Kevin Burdis described Adam’s actions as utterly astounding and an amazing achievement.

He said: “Adam does have a speech and language impediment.

“The week before this incident happened, he had been rewarded for the improvements he had made.

“He had said the word ‘sausages’, which is an achievement for a child with his range of disabilities.

“So when I heard from the taxi escorts who bring Adam into school that he had been able to communicate with the emergency services and help his mum in those circumstances I was just blown away by. It was fantastic.”