Debbie Emery

Debbie Emery stands for a photo with her grandson, James. Earlier this week, James helped save Emery’s life, calling 911 after Emery suffered a mini stroke.

WASILLA — An act of heroism from an unlikely first responder has one Wasilla family reunited after a health scare on Monday.

“If he hadn’t been here, I don’t know what would’ve happened,” Debbie Emery said.

Emery’s 8-year-old grandson James stayed over at her house on Sunday night. At around 5:30 a.m. Monday, Emery fell from her bed and was unable to get up, suffering from a transient ischemic attack, or mini stroke. James heroically sprung into action, responding to his grandmother’s aid and talking to the MATCOM 911 operator until EMT’s arrived to take his grandmother to Mat-Su Regional Medical Center.

“I remember absolutely nothing after I told him to call his mom and 911 until later that afternoon,” Emery said. “He’s very generous. He’s very concerned not only about his family but other people.”

James attends Pioneer Peak Elementary where his mother, Sherri Bauer, teaches special education. Emery and her grandson James are best buds, playing with nerf guns and water pistols in the summer. In the winter months, James likes to play Fortnite and Minecraft, and hopes to one day become a police officer and an artist.

After Emery fell in between her bed and bookcase, James called his mother first, who did not answer, and then proceeded to direct the 911 operator to his grandmother’s home. James laid a blanket on his grandmother and kept his composure.

“I was scared and worried,” James said. “The 911 operator was kind of calming me down. I’m proud that I called 911 and I’m happy that my grandma is still alive.”

Emery was transported to MSRMC on Monday morning and returned to her home with only light weakness on her left side on Thursday. Emery said that she did not remember going through CAT scans or MRI machines or the many needle pokes she bears on her arm, but she remembered her grandson responding to help when she could not help herself.

“I was shocked because he was very calm during all of it and I think part of it is because the lady was so nice on the phone,” Bauer said. “I was really concerned about my son and being in that situation and being able to handle it. When I got here, I was quite shocked with how calm he was and how matter of fact and how he processed it. When things got calm and he knew grandma was okay, that’s when he started crying and dealing with it.”

Not even 10 years old, James has had to deal with a lot of responsibility for a boy his age. Bauer battled breast cancer last year, and James would routinely check on his mother in the middle of the night to see if she was okay. Emery works at a misdemeanor probation office and sees the negative effects of drug and alcohol abuse in the Valley at her job. Emery was proud that her grandson was able to help her get the help she needed.

“His first instinct in everything was I need to make sure grandma’s okay, and that’s just who he is,” Bauer said.

James completed an assignment in kindergarten where he drew what he wanted to be when he grew up. With first response experience already, James aspires to continue to protect and serve as a police officer.

The positive outcomes of James’ quick reaction to help his grandmother are not only that he gets to continue spending time with his best bud, but that he is prepared for this situation in the future, should it happen again.

“I do i think it’s important that we have conversations with our kids about how to call 911 and that it’s okay to and when it’s okay to and I think being able to do that made it so he knew and could dial 911 as quickly as he did,” Bauer said.

James, his mother and grandmother are happy to be able to continue spending time together thanks to James’ quick action.

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