VIDEO: LBFD recognizes nine-year-old ‘Hero’ for saving her father’s life

Some heroes wear capes, others, like nine-year-old Kayla Swain, wear their hair in braids.

Standing in front of the Long Beach Department’s Fire Station 11, Kayla was awarded the title of Honorary Hero by LBFD, Wednesday, for her bravery and quick action in calling 911 after her father, Jonathan Swain, began to exhibit signs of a stroke.

At first, Jonathan noticed that he had lost some sensation in his right arm but, thinking he could just sleep it off, went back to bed. When he got back up to use the restroom 20 minutes later, Kayla noticed her father struggling to walk and stumbling down the hallway. After hearing him fall repeatedly in the bathroom, Kayla decided to make the call.

“Kayla acted like a superhero,” said LBFD spokesman Jake Heflin. “Kayla was trying to lift up Jonathan to keep him from falling down the stairs. Her actions, not only initially on the phone call, but even after the phone call, continued to save his life.”

Because of Kayla, Jonathan was able to get the care and life-saving surgery he needed. He’s since made a full recovery.

“Kayla was able to take on that huge responsibility and be calm and communicate with the dispatcher what she thought was happening with her Dad,” said Dr. May Nour who was Jonathan’s lead operating surgeon at Memorial Medical Center. “If she hadn’t have done that, the appropriate resources wouldn’t have reached him.”

Time is of the essence when treating victims of a stroke. Minutes can mean the difference between walking out of the hospital or spending the rest of one’s life in a wheelchair, so recognizing the symptoms is extremely important, Dr. Nour said. A helpful acronym to remember is F.A.S.T, which stands for face, arms, speech and time to act.

“It’s very important that if anyone is experiencing problems with language or strength or sensation, that they call 911 right away,” Dr. Nour said.

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Cheantay Jensen is an editorial intern who covers art and culture for the Hi-lo section of the Long Beach Post.