The Orange County Register tells the story in text and video.  Stephanie Mechem and their daughter, Sarah, recount a frightening moment when three young grandchildren found their grandmother on the couch – victim of a stroke.  Watch the video… then read the article, included below.

Heroic kids save grandma who had stroke

Elaine Bagger’s young grandchildren said a quick prayer and dialed 911.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009



If it weren’t for two 8-year-olds and a 5-year-old’s call to 911, Elaine Bagger, 82, could be dead or paralyzed now. Instead, she’s walking and talking, slated to be released from the hospital today after two weeks of treatment and physical therapy.

Bagger had a stroke in her home in La Mirada July 17 while she was babysitting three of her grandchildren. At around 5 p.m., she found herself frozen. Her grandson Blake Ellis, 8, of La Habra was on the couch with her.

She recounted her ordeal Tuesday morning, surrounded by some of her family members – two of her nine children and four of her 17 grandchildren. They all sat packed in her St. Jude hospital room – Bagger sitting on a chair, dressed in street clothes and alert.

“I was sitting on my sofa with my little grandson,” she said. “I remember talking, and then I couldn’t. I was sitting there trying to compose my thoughts to say something. I was looking at Blake, I could hear him, I could see him, but I couldn’t say a sound. I was desperately trying to communicate. Blake asked me something and I couldn’t answer. He looked at me in horror.”

Blake said he had been outside on the patio with his sister, Ireland Ellis, 5, of La Habra; and cousin, Sara Mechem, 8, of Placentia, discussing whether to play hide and seek or some other game. Blake sat down with his grandmother briefly after he went in to get a glass of water.

He said that when he realized something was wrong, he rushed out on the third-floor balcony to alert Sara and Ireland.

“Grandma is dying on the couch,” he yelled.

“I thought, ‘Well, it’s probably nothing major, but then I saw her,'” Sara said.

“Blakey was the only one not crying,” Ireland added.

Ireland thought to go say a prayer for their grandmother – they all went into their grandmother’s bedroom and joined hands.

“I prayed to God and I prayed to Grandpa, too, that Grandma would be OK,” Ireland said.

It was Blake who thought to call 911 – he dialed the number on his grandmother’s cell phone, but was too shocked to answer the questions posed by the dispatcher. He handed the phone to Sara.

“They asked, ‘What is your grandma doing, is she talking, is she moving?'” Sara said. “Then I said, ‘She’s not moving and she’s not talking.'”

The dispatcher couldn’t easily trace the call because it was a cell phone, and the children didn’t know where to tell the ambulances to go – so the dispatcher asked Sara to find some mail so they could read the address.

“They said, ‘Well, try to find a piece of mail,’ and I told Blake to find a piece of mail,” Sara said.

Blake grabbed a set of keys and bounded down the hallway to the residential complex’s mail boxes. He tried all the keys and couldn’t open the box. Luckily, a next-door neighbor heard the commotion and came to help.

Neighbors took over and sent the kids out on the balcony to calm down, where they watched the ambulance.

Blake and Ireland’s mom, Pamela Ellis, 40, of La Habra arrived soon after the ambulance. She was taking their other sister, Emma Ellis, 10, to perform in the “Pajama Game” for the Fullerton Children’s Repertoire Theater.

“At first, we thought it was going to be traumatic for the kids,” said Sara’s mom, Stephanie Mechem, 40, of Placentia. “But if they hadn’t been there, she would have been lying on the couch for hours.”

According to registered nurse Sara Williams, the manager of the stroke program at St. Jude, that could have been disastrous. Because the children acted so quickly, doctors were able to administer lifesaving medicine well within the first three hours after her stroke.

This allowed the clot-busting drugs to dissolve the blockage in her brain, allowing oxygen-rich blood to travel freely and prevent vital tissue from dying.

“As far as the kids calling 911, they really are heroes,” Williams said. “When I first saw (Bagger) in the emergency room, I really didn’t think she had much of a chance to recover.”

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