HANOVER COUNTY, Va. — The hug was more than a month in the making, spurred on by a phone call and a viral TikTok video.
Hanover Communications Officer Shannon Scheibel shared an embrace with Deja Etheridge and her six-year-old daughter, Jordynn, after a 911 call placed by the youngest among them potentially saved her mother’s life.
“I just wanted to make sure you knew that you did a good job. She did a good job too,” Scheibel said with a laugh and smile toward Jordynn.
It was March 14 at the Etheridge’s home in Hanover County. A normal Monday in which Deja was getting Jordynn ready for school. The only other person home was her four-year-old daughter Payton.
“I’m a military veteran. I had taken some of my prescribed medication. I took it Sunday night and when I woke up Monday to get her ready for school, I felt really groggy in the morning, really light-headed, really dizzy,” Etheridge said. “No sooner than I tried to make it up the steps, I think I made up maybe two or three steps, I felt myself going down. I actually heard myself hit the ground, but by that point, I didn’t feel anything else and everything else went black.”
Deja made a TikTok video, which now has more than 7 million views, from what the Ring cameras in their home captured. In it, you can see Deja lying on the floor unconscious, and Jordynn on the phone.
“I know that when I came to, I looked at Jordynn and she was on the phone, and I’m like, ‘Who are you on the phone with?’" Etheridge recalled. "And she’s like, ‘Uh, 911.’”
On the call Jordynn placed, you can hear Scheibel and Jordynn calmly walk through what happened. Jordynn is even able to rely the Etheridge’s address by running outside to see their house number so emergency crews can respond to help her mother.
“My mom, she freaked out. As adults, we’ll freak out. So for a six-year-old to be able to take that on, it makes me really, really proud," Etheridge said.
Hanover Emergency Communications officials said Jordynn’s actions in a tense moment show how important it can be for family to talk to their kids about emergency plans, even at a young age.
“You have to call 911 to get those resources sent to you, so practicing or planning for that is really important,” Cheryl Buchanan, the director of the Hanover County Emergency Communications Department, said. “I don’t think it’s too soon start basic instruction. I would say as soon as there is an opportunity presents itself to educate them on that.”
At Wednesday’s Hanover County Board of Supervisors meeting, important adults were so impressed by Jordynn’s actions they honored her with a 911 Lifesaver Award and made her an honorary Emergency Communications Officer.
The normally shy, reserved six-year-old cracked a smile as she received her award and recognition.
“It’s something that she’ll always be able to look back on. For Jordynn, she’s always been a very shy child, so to know that she had that burst of personality shine through, it’s really rewarding,” Etheridge said. “As a mom, knowing that my kids are going to look out for me... I’m supposed to be their protector. At such a young age, they can step in and be my protector. I mean, it’s huge. It’s really big.”
For families who want help organizing and discussing their emergency plans, Buchanan suggested contacting their local 911 for resources and assistance.