Sick toddler phones her own ambulance

If most 3-year-olds found themselves struggling to breathe in the early hours of the morning, they’d be crying desperately for their parents.

But Lina Aiono-Te Tau’s mother is deaf, so Lina did the next best thing – she rang 111.

Staff at the Wellington Free Ambulance call centre were stunned when they received a call from the coughing toddler on Saturday morning, telling them she was having breathing difficulties.

Call-taker Jordan Lane said that, when he asked to speak to the girl’s mother, he was told she was deaf and could not speak.

Lina struggled to give him the number of her house, so staff contacted the mobile network provider.

Eventually Mr Lane was able to text Lina’s mother, Stevie Aiono, and confirm where she lived.

Lina, who is believed to be Wellington Free Ambulance’s youngest emergency caller, was taken to Wellington Hospital, where she was treated for croup and a viral infection.

Mr Lane was impressed with how calm Lina had been during the ordeal. “I’ve got a 3-year-old and I can’t imagine him doing it. I asked him where he lived last night and he had no idea.”

In written responses to questions from The Dominion Post, Ms Aiono said she put Lina and her younger daughter, Jahressa, to bed at 8.30pm but was woken by a blue-lipped Lina just after midnight. She was coughing and saying she could not breathe.

Jahressa then started coughing as well and Ms Aiono began panicking, before Lina said she would call 111. She had learnt about the service when firefighters visited her kindergarten.

Her ability to call when sick was amazing, Ms Aiono said.

“I’m very proud of her . . . I knew she would be a very bright girl from the day she came.

“It was hard work raising her, but it was rewarding and I’m proud of how she is now.”

Intensive care paramedic Damian McGlinchey said Lina told him calmly how she made the call.

“She told me she used Mum’s phone to call for an ambulance. She was quite proud.”

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