If it wasn’t for the quick thinking of James Faulkner there would be little reason for his grandmother Lorna McLaughlin to smile.
Aged just seven, James rang 999 when he discovered his grandmother unconscious in her bed and — even though he did not know his location — managed to guide paramedics to the emergency.
Without his heroic actions, it is almost certain the retired cook from north Belfast would not have survived after suffering a life-threatening bleed in her brain with only her young grandson with her at the time.
“I had an aneurysm in my brain so I was very lucky James was there and knew to dial 999 or I wouldn’t be here today,” explained Ms McLaughlin (57).
“I can’t give him enough praise.
“I can’t believe he was able to do what he did.
“I think if I had been him I would have been useless — just screaming and shouting.”
James, who is now 11, explained: “I stayed at my gran’s and I woke up and noticed blood and wondered what was wrong.
“I was really scared.
“I didn’t know what to do so I asked her if she was okay and she wasn’t really speaking.
“I tried to phone my mum but there was no credit on the phone so I phoned an ambulance.
“My dad had sat me down and told me if there was ever a fire or someone wasn’t well I should phone 999.
“I didn’t know my gran’s address but I knew she lived in flats in Skegoneill and when the ambulance came I shouted out the window to them.
“I couldn’t open the door because it was too stiff so the fire brigade had to break it down.
“I was petrified but I’m proud now.”
Five years on, James’ heroic actions have been revealed in a heartwrenching recording of the call he made to emergency services which was featured on Stephen Nolan’s BBC radio show yesterday morning. It revealed in graphic detail the hysteria and emotional distress call handlers at the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service often face as they serve people across the province.
Throughout the call, James — who was a year three pupil at Seaview Primary School at the time — sobs as he tries desperately to rouse his grandmother. Unable to unlock the front door of the flat he begs for help and even though paramedics arrive at the scene within minutes, the call seems to go on forever.
At one point he cries out that he believes his grandmother is dead.
Even when paramedics are able to get in to the property, the youngster’s anguish continues and emergency service staff can be heard comforting him in the background.
Ms McLaughlin continued: “It is the first time I heard what happened and it has made me realise what James went through.
“I knew I was unconscious but I had no idea that he thought I was dead so that has really upset me,” she added.