By Peter Douglas
Upwey’s Charlotte Perry, 4, has become one of the youngest recipients of the coveted Junior Triple Zero Hero awards, an acknowledgement of her ability to stay calm and collected in a crisis.
Charlotte contacted triple zero when her mother, Tracey, fell unexpectedly and became pinned underneath a chair.
Tracey suffers from a chronic complex migraine condition, which causes her to lose consciousness without warning, leaving her susceptible to falls and potentially significant injuries.
Thankfully for the entire Perry family, young Charlotte, an Upwey Primary School student, was able to help out when needed.
Charlotte explained to the operator what was happening, in addition to caring for her mother until the paramedics arrived.
Tracey said she was in awe of her daughter’s resilience and cool head.
“Because of my falls, my husband (Andrew) and I had spoken about what would happen if he wasn’t around,” she said.
“So, we tried to teach her as best we could. But she really stepped up when we needed her. If she hadn’t have helped, I hate to think what may’ve happened.
“On that day, I didn’t completely lose consciousness. But I brought down a chair with me and it had pinned me down. I’ve had hip replacements and couldn’t move.”
Tracey said her condition had been hard for the family, but Charlotte had been brave throughout.
“We’ve all heard about the dangers around one-punch attacks and that it can kill. In my case, it’s similar, because it’s the fall that can get you, too,” she said.
“I can’t warn anyone around me that it’s going to happen, because I don’t know when it will happen.
“It’s not so scary for me, because I only know about it when I come to. But for those around me, it can be hugely scary, including for my daughter.”
Tracey said only recently she had reached 27 days without an episode, during a health battle she has fought for the past three years.
She believes it stems back to a car crash in which she was involved in 2000.
Tracey had a hip replacement in 2001, then again in 2015.
She said since the 2015 replacement, she has endured her present health battles, from which she is still hoping to recover but has no clear answer on when or how.
Tracey chose not to attend the formal presentation of Charlotte’s award, which she said “broke her heart”.
“It was Charlotte’s day and I wanted it to be all about her. I felt that if I’d attended, it would’ve put too much pressure on her and my family. I’m incredibly proud of her achievement.”
In addition to praising her daughter, Tracey said she was enormously grateful towards the whole Upwey community for the help she has received during her health battle.
Meanwhile, in total, 31 young Victorians – between the ages of four and 13 – were named Junior Triple Zero Heroes by the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA).
The awards, now in their 14th year, recognise young people for their bravery and clear thinking in emergencies.
Monbulk MP James Merlino praised all the recipients, as well as the fine work of ESTA’s triple zero operators.
“Victoria’s brave Junior Triple Zero Heroes remained remarkably cool, calm and collected and are shining examples of how preparing children for an emergency can save lives,” Mr Merlino said.
ESTA’s chief executive officer, Marty Smyth, said, “teaching your children how and when to call triple zero, including knowing your home address, really can save lives”.
Charlotte’s feat continues a long line of brave heroes from the Yarra Ranges.
In 2015, Montrose youngster Tiana Dewhurst, who was then also four years of age, was a recipient.
Tiana dialled triple zero after her mother hit her head and lost consciousness.
In 2017, Jamie Le Sueur, also from Montrose, was acknowledged after calling triple zero when his mother, Susan, began having a seizure.