Monday, January 30, 2023

Playing phone game helps Virginia Beach preschooler call neighbor, save life

Grayson fist bumps deputy chief Cooper, formally accepting his certificate of recognition at Fire Station 5 in Virginia Beach
Grayson Buchanan fist bumps deputy chief Cooper, formally accepting his certificate of recognition at Fire Station 5 in Virginia Beach. (Justin Belichis/Southside Daily)

VIRGINIA BEACH — When a preschooler saw his great aunt had suffered multiple seizures last month, he jumped into action and called a neighbor.

The Virginia Beach Fire Department honored 4-year-old Grayson Buchanan Monday for helping authorities respond to the emergency May 16.

“My aunt had said she wasn’t feeling good and she picked up her phone and handed it to Grayson and said ‘call Laura,'” his mother Jessica Buchanan said.

After handing Grayson the phone, the Landstown Elementary preschool student was able to make the call using a contact listing containing a photo of Laura.

He opened the door for his neighbor, and authorities received the call at around 5 p.m.

Today, Grayson’s great aunt is with her family recovering, according to Jessica.

Grayson Buchanan and his family recall the events of May 16. (Justin Belichis/Southside Daily)

“I get emotional because Grayson was actually diagnosed with a development delay when he was younger because he had to have tubes put in at 18 months because he couldn’t hear,” Jessica said. “Since then, he’s actually improved drastically and school helps him grow.”

Fire Captain Wayne Black, who was on the scene, said the outcome could have been significantly different if it were not for Grayson’s call.

“For a 4-year-old, that’s pretty extraordinary to use a telephone, to be able to initiate a 911 call through the neighbor. It’s important to teach your own kids how to do that,” Black said.

“I think that the outcome may not have been very well. Grayson was the only one there at that time, so until the next person showed up, whether it was his sister or a neighbor, it could have been hours before someone could have initiated that response from us.”

Grayson said he knew how to use a phone because he plays a game called Slither.io on it often. His mother said she also began to teach Grayson how to react to emergencies when he started preschool with some help from his older sister

Kathleen Gill, VBFD fire education specialist, said she and her team work with Virginia Beach preschoolers and senior citizens regularly.

“We initiate education, fire safety and life safety skills to those as young as 3,” Gill said. “As far as 911 goes, we do introduce it early on.”

At the end of the ceremony, Deputy Fire Chief Vance Cooper bent down on one knee, fist bumped Grayson and presented him with his special certificate.

“This is special for you, nobody else, just you.” Cooper said. “Grayson might be the youngest one I’ve ever heard of doing something like this, at least in our area, so it’s pretty extraordinary.”

Grayson responded humbly with “yay,” and toured Fire Station 5 as a reward.

Follow Justin on Twitter @Justinbmmj or send a story idea to Justin@wydaily.com

Grayson’s certificate from the Virginia Beach Fire Department. (Justin Belichis/Southside Daily)

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