Preschooler's 911 call helps save brother
As Grace Varley's brother choked on food and turned blue, their panicked grandmother ran out the door -- carrying the passed-out toddler to the neighbor's house.
That's when Grace, just 4 years old, called 911.
"My brother's not moving," were her first words to the dispatcher Wednesday afternoon. Moments later, an ambulance was on its way.
Today, the Amityville Village preschooler is being hailed as a lifesaving hero by police, her parents and family friends.
"She was very calm, cool and collected," police Sgt. John Sullivan, who took the 911 call, said Friday. "Time is of the essence when you have a child that's not breathing."
"Gracie amazes me on a daily basis," said her mother, Alison Varley, 33, an attorney with the Nassau County attorney's office.
A few months ago, Grace also showed her mettle.
Her little brother Myles accidentally stuck a lollipop stick in his mother's ear, bursting an eardrum. While Varley was in pain, she said Grace soothed her tearful younger brother, saying, "Calm down, buddy. It's OK."
Then she turned to her mother and said, "Mommy, tell me what to do."
The day Myles choked, the children were having dinner with their grandmother and baby-sitter -- Christine Doran, 63.
"A chicken nugget was stuck in his throat," Grace recalled. "I was scared. I thought he was never going to wake up."
Doran said she carried the toddler to the sink, but he passed out. She tried the Heimlich maneuver and slapped his back. Nothing worked.
Hands shaking, Doran tried calling 911, but didn't get through. Leaving the phone on the counter, the grandmother ran outside with the boy, screaming the names of neighbors.
Grace, left with baby brother Conor, 8 months, knew about 911 from her prekindergarten class. She got through on the first try, calmly answering Sullivan's questions.
Officer John Andriella, 45, who happens to live next to the Varleys, was the first to arrive, about a minute later. Taking the boy from another neighbor, he put Myles upside down on his lap and slapped his back several times.
"He let out a cry, which to me was like music," the officer said.
Myles, accompanied by his relieved grandmother, was taken by ambulance to Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip. He was released that night to his mother and father, real estate lawyer Myles Varley, 34.
Grace, who has a passion for princesses and all things pink, turned 5 on Friday. Myles turns 2 in six days. They'll share a backyard bash Saturday -- an event that was preplanned but is now suddenly poignant.
The hero worship, Grace figures, is just a bonus.
"I like it because it makes me feel very happy," she said.