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Seven Year Old Uses Technology in Heroic Act

Noah Schnall uses Facetime in an emergency.

Noah Schnall stands behind his grandmother Barbara Mendeles, parents Michael and Barri Schnall with brother Ethan and family dog Buster.

Noah Schnall stands behind his grandmother Barbara Mendeles, parents Michael and Barri Schnall with brother Ethan and family dog Buster. Photo by Susan Belford.

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The Schnall family: Grandmother Barbara Mendeles with Barri and Michael Schnall and their sons Noah and Evan.

— Do your children know who to call for help in an emergency? Do they understand how to use a cell phone or an iPad — or Facetime? Have they been told about 911 — how to call and what to say?

Seven-year old Noah Schnall of Potomac made the ultimate use of technology when his grandmother Barbara Mendeles — nicknamed Dra by Noah and his five-year-old brother, Ethan — fell, hit her head and blacked out while she was babysitting her grandsons. Barri and Michael Schnall had just called to check on their sons and to tell her that they were on their way home. They were in the car when they received the call from Noah via iPad Facetime.

“Mom, can I tell you something even if it’s bad?” Noah asked his mom. Of course, she told him to tell her, thinking it would be something like, “Ethan pulled the dog’s tail.” Instead, Ethan said, “Dra fell and is bleeding from her head.” Using the iPad Facetime, he then proceeded to show her his grandma and helped to evaluate her condition.

Barri and her husband Michael Schnall were about 20 minutes from their home — where their children’s caretaker was on the floor, bleeding and unable to speak to them.

“We felt so utterly helpless — but Noah had it all under control,” Michael Schnall said.

Noah proceeded to follow his mom’s instructions, and also made certain that his little brother was sitting on the couch watching TV and the dog, Buster, was in his crate.

Barri Schnall was amazed by her son’s composure. “Noah remained calm — and that helped his grandma to do the same. He had to walk upstairs and find the iPad, turn it on and connect with me. Once he had reached me on it, he proceeded to cleverly position the iPad so I could see Dra while he used his hands to hold a moist washcloth and ice pack to her head. That helped me decide if she needed an ambulance. I am a physical therapist so I have had medical training and I was able to constantly monitor her during the entire drive home. I was impressed with his ‘calm and in-control’ attitude — as well as his ingenuity in finding a way to contact me. We should have had emergency telephone numbers posted beside our telephone, but we didn’t. He could not remember my cell phone number, and all by himself, he came up with a clever alternative.”

“After she woke up, I helped her get to the chair,” said Noah. “I pulled her up by the hand and then I sat on the table to help her.”

“And I helped by watching TV quietly while Noah was doing his thing,” said little brother Ethan.

“I was scared,” said Noah. “But I’m glad I thought of a way to call my parents.”

A student at Potomac Elementary School, Noah has a talent for technology. “Ever since he was 3 years old, he was good with electronics including cell phones, iPads, DVD’s — he is just great at figuring out how to use them. He knows Facetime well, since he talks to our relatives using it,” said his dad.

Once Barri Schnall arrived home, she drove her mom to the emergency room. The swelling was under control, but the doctor decided to keep her overnight for observation and tests. She has recovered and doctors have determined her fall was caused by hypotension. But one thing is certain, “I am incredibly proud of my grandson for his courage and quick actions. I felt well taken care of,” she said.

“Most important is the lesson that all parents should learn from this incident,” she continued. “Be certain that children know what to do in case of an emergency. They need to know how to call for help — and have phone numbers posted in a prominent place. Noah couldn’t have contacted his parents by cell phone or texting because their cell phone requires a password and he didn’t know it. The fact he thought to use ‘Facetime’ was just brilliant. I’m a lucky grandma to have such courageous, smart and responsible grandsons.”