When a four-year-old saw his mother on the floor unresponsive, he did the only thing he knew to do. He looked to call for help. However, his family didn’t have a readily available landline. His mother’s smartphone also had a passcode. The British child, only identified as Roman, used his mother’s thumb to unlock her cellphone. He then asked Siri to call 999, the British number for emergency services.
Ultimately, Roman’s quick thinking save his mother’s life. The BBC reported that an operator sent paramedics to the house quickly after hearing the boy say his mother was “dead.” “She’s closing her eyes and not breathing,” Roman told the dispatcher. You can hear the whole conversation on this audio clip:
Not only did this child manage to think to unlock his mom’s smartphone which he’d probably seen her do hundreds of times, he also managed to stay collected when answering the dispatcher’s questions. He described the situation to the best of his ability. He knew his address. Reports even noted that Roman was at home with his twin brother and a younger sibling. This kid is incredible.
“Hearing this call brings home the importance of teaching your young child their home address and how to call police or emergency services in an emergency situation,” said Chief Superintendent Ade Adelekan of the Met’s Command and Control Unit, which handles emergency calls.
“It’s an amazing story and thanks to his quick thinking and by asking ‘Siri’ for help, this little boy saved his mom’s life and it means she is still here and can be extremely proud of him and his brothers,” he added.
However, this story brings into question the importance of landlines. Since the rise of cell phones and other smart technology, landlines and wall-mounted phones dropped off. For instance, it’s possible Roman might not have had one in the house. If he did, it might not have been used frequently enough for his four-year-old mind to prefer it to a smartphone. In the US, cell phones greatly outnumber landlines. A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 47 percent of people polled only have a cell phone. Roughly 41 percent had both. One of the biggest reasons to keep a landline for rural residents is that it’s more consistent than spotty cell phone service. However, landlines also come in handy during emergencies like the one Roman experienced. Landlines are connected to a fixed point making it easier to track down for emergency services.
Apple does have an iPhone feature for emergencies. Simply swipe right and then tap “Emergency” to unlock the dial pad. But that might be a lot for a young child who hasn’t seen the process done before. Once unlocked, Siri will dial emergency services. It gives a five-second countdown to cancel the call in case it was requested as a mistake. Locking a child out of a parent’s phone might seem like the best thing to do, but in emergency situations like this, it leaves kids with fewer options.
We’re just grateful that everyone is safe and Siri worked exactly as she’s programmed to do.