7-Year Old Saves Father During Heart Attack

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Not many 7-year olds know how to react during an emergency, but luckily for Buffalo area father Jason Mergenhagen, his daughter is one of them.

The day after Thanksgiving, Mergenhagen started experiencing chest pains and had trouble breathing, classic signs of a heart attack. When his two daughters, Carlie, 7, and Ava, 5, came down the stairs, he did his best to convey his distress to them.

“Carlie’s like, ‘Dad, what’s the matter?’ I don’t know if she thought I was going to pass out,” Mergenhagen explains. “I just said, ‘Call 911,’ and handed her the cellphone. She was able to call 911 and talk to the dispatcher. It gets kind of fuzzy after that.”

Mergenhagen says there was no way he would have been able to speak to the dispatcher. Instead, Carli was able to communicate what was going on. She then waited outside, as the dispatcher told her to do, and waved in the ambulance when it arrived.

After four days in the hospital, Mergenhagen was released and is doing well. His daughters didn’t visit him in the hospital, and so the three didn’t see each other until the following week when Carlie and Ava returned home from school after Mergenhagen had been released from the hospital.

Part of the credit for Carli’s actions go to her elementary school, which gave her and her peers instructions on staying calm and calling 911 during an emergency last year. “When someone’s hurt, you call 911,”Carli recalls.

Mergenhagen says he has also made sure Carli knows important information like their address. But he admits the school deserves most of the credit for teaching students how to react in an emergency.

The school board in Carli’s district is planning to honor her at a board meeting later this month. “She’s a brave, poised young lady for sure,” said Superintendent Michael R. Cornell said. “And I’m looking forward to talking with her about what she did and giving her a pat on the back at our board meeting.”