7-year-old honored for making 911 call that helped save his mother
Daniel Armani called 911 because his mother was having an epileptic seizure, and despite his age, calmly relayed critical information while comforting his mother.
Daniel Armani sat inside a fire truck Friday, with hands on the large steering wheel, his feet unable to reach the floor, wearing a plastic fire helmet and an ear-to-ear smile.
It was all part of the 7-year-old’s reward for helping to save his mom’s life.
Daniel, who goes by D.J., called 911 on May 30 at 6 p.m. because his mother was having an epileptic seizure. He then calmly and cooly relayed critical information while comforting his mother.
“I’ve been here for 18 years and handled thousands and thousands of calls, but this guy was a step ahead, especially for being so young,” said Dianne Statts-Mareci, the Chicago Fire Department communications officer who handled the call.
Statts-Mareci said the call was transferred to her from police communication officer Andrea Jones when it was determined to be a medical issue. Jones stayed on the line, and both of them took information from D.J. that helped save his mother, Tarissa Clark.
“We get a lot of calls from kids but you could hear in his voice that something wasn’t right,” Jones said, explaining why she transferred the call to Statts-Mareci. Both said D.J. remained cool and provided them with important information.
“It’s key because all the information we ask is necessary to get the right kind of help,” Statts-Mareci said.
“This kid was spot-on. He was calm. He answered all the questions. He was very concerned to make sure his mom was OK and he kept telling her that she was going to be OK. He talked to me calmly, calmer than most adults I talk to. He handled it like a champ.”
Clark, 25, who lives with her son in Bronzeville, said she’s suffered from seizures all her life. Because of that, she taught D.J. starting around age 4 what he should do if she suffered one.
Until last month, he’d never had to call 911 for her — but when he did, he came through with flying colors, she said.
After Statts-Mareci finished the call with D.J., she alerted a supervisor.
“I went to my supervisor and I said, ‘Sometimes we get recognized for exemplary calls. How do we recognize the public? This little fella needs somebody to know how important what he did was,’” she said.
That led to D.J., his mother and a few family members being invited to the Office of Emergency Management, where he was presented with a challenge coin and certificate from OEMC Executive Director Rich Guidice. He also got a plastic fire helmet and backpack from acting CFD Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt, as well as a Lego fire truck.
Nance-Holt joked that DJ looked like “the new fire chief.”
Guidice told DJ his actions were heroic, calling the call “truly amazing.”
Then, after a private tour of the 911 call center, D.J. and his family went to the Engine 16 fire station in Bronzeville, at Pershing Road and Wabash Avenue. There, D.J. was presented with a new bicycle and bike helmet by retired firefighters Kirkland Flowers and Art Lewis.
Flowers and Lewis had worked at that station for several years, and would reward neighborhood kids through a group they started, Firefighters and Paramedics In The Community Helping.
D.J. and his family also got a firehouse tour, which is how he ended up behind the wheel of that fire truck.