Local teen honored as part of '911 Day'

COVINGTON - A 13-year-old Newton County girl was honored by Gov. Sonny Perdue earlier this week for the heroic actions she took to save her grandmother's life.

Paige Hood, who was 12 at the time, was at her home in the Pebble Brook subdivision Dec. 19 when she realized that something was wrong with her grandmother, 71-year-old Betty Harden.

"When I came in, (her grandmother) was sitting on the couch and she was just gargling. I asked her if she was OK, and she didn't say anything," Hood said, adding that she was scared throughout the ordeal.

Harden said that she had suffered a stroke when she was found by her granddaughter and indicated that she was more afraid for her when it happened than for herself.

"I was worried about her because she was out here by herself, scared," she said. "I knew I had help on the way for me, but I didn't know what she was going to do. We just had a scary time for a little bit."

Hood, a student at Veterans Memorial Middle School, called 911 and relayed all the necessary information to Covington-Newton County 911 Dispatcher Laurel Roysden, who stayed on the line with the girl until help arrived.

"With the situation like it was, I think (Hood) did exceptionally well. She stayed calm a whole lot more than what you would expect out of a child," said Roysden, who has been with the 911 center for five years. "There are some adults that are not as calm as her. She did very well. Probably, through her actions, she was able to save her grandmother."

Harden was subsequently airlifted to St. Joseph's Hospital in Atlanta, where she received treatment. She is recovering at home from the stroke and recent angioplasty surgery.

Roysden said that many times children aren't aware of the seriousness of the condition a person can be in, but said that Hood was able to provide her with details that aided first responders.

"Whatever questions we asked her, she answered the best she could. If she didn't know an answer or a word, she would describe what she needed to, to get across what was going on," Roysden said.

In proclaiming Tuesday as "911 Day in Georgia," Gov. Perdue and Georgia Emergency Management Agency Director Charley English honored Hood and 12 other children for making life-saving 911 calls in a ceremony held at the State Capitol.

"911 is the front line of emergency response," English said in a prepared statement. "We honor the 911 professionals who work tirelessly to operate the system. They have earned and deserve our gratitude. We also commend these fine young people who activated the system to save lives."

Hood was also appreciative of the governor's recognition of her actions.

"I thought it was really cool because I got to meet the governor and all of the people who work there," she said.

When asked if she felt like a hero, Hood said she believed she was.

"Yes, because I saved my grandmother!" Hood declared.

Joel Griffin can be reached at joel.griffin@newtoncitizen.com.