Brave three-year-old girl saves Mid Sussex mum’s life during severe asthma attack

A three-year-old girl from Burgess Hill saved her mother’s life by talking to emergency services while her mum had a severe asthma attack.

Monday, 2nd August 2021, 5:57 pm
Updated Monday, 2nd August 2021, 6:04 pm

Kayleigh Robus, 29, of Hallands, St Andrew’s Road, said that on June 7 her brittle asthma became so bad she could not speak.

She was at home while her husband Michael was at work but her daughter Imogen was with her and told her ‘Mummy you need to ring the number’.

“She meant 999,” said Kayleigh, who dialed the digits before Imogen pressed the button to make the call go through.

Kayleigh Robus, 29, with her daughter Imogen. Picture: Steve Robards, SR2108022.

She said that when the operator asked which service they needed Imogen said ‘my mummy can’t breathe properly’ and asked for help.

“They put us through to the ambulance from that and they were trying to talk to me but I couldn’t get any words out,” said Kayleigh.

The operator then realised she needed to speak to the child and asked Imogen if she knew where she lived.

“She doesn’t know the name of our road or our number or anything like that but they got the location off my phone,” said Kayleigh.

Kayleigh Robus, 29, with her daughter Imogen. Picture: Steve Robards, SR2108022.

Emergency services then asked Imogen what landmarks were nearby to get a rough idea of the house’s location in the road.

“She told them there’s a shop just up the road, there’s a bus stop just outside our house and that our front door is grey,” said Kayleigh.

The ambulance service then asked Imogen to shout for help in the garden, which she did, and also to open the front door and wait there for the ambulance.

“The whole time Imogen had my phone with her and it was on speaker so I could hear what they were saying to her,” said Kayleigh.

“She just stood in the doorway of our front door waiting for the ambulance,” she added, saying that the ambulance service kept talking to her and told Imogen not to leave the house.

Kayleigh said the experience was terrifying and that every time she tried to stand up she fell back onto her sofa.

“When Imogen saw the ambulance arrive she came running in to me and she said ‘mummy it’s going to be okay now’,” she said.

“If she wasn’t in the garden or outside our front door, she was sitting with me and trying to tell me to breathe slowly and she had my inhalers all laid out in front of her.”

When the ambulance team entered they were amazed Imogen had helped her mother so much.

“They asked ‘who phoned’ and I just pointed at her,” said Kayleigh, adding that she held up three fingers to let them known Imogen’s age.

“They were in shock, I think, that a three-year-old had phoned and got help.”

Kayleigh was taken to the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath where she stayed for five days.

She said she did not go into an intensive care unit but was checked regularly by the intensive care team and was given nebulisers, IV steroids and IV magnesium, as well as oral steroids for a month after the incident.

Kayleigh said she has been ‘in and out of hospital’ for the past seven years, since her regular asthma turned into brittle asthma – a more severe form of the condition.

“I have three different inhalers every day, I take tablets for my asthma and anything can set it off,” said Kayleigh.

She said she has been told that an asthma attack could kill her and said the one on June 7 was the worst she has ever had.

“I honestly don’t know where I’d be if Imogen wasn’t here because it was just me and her at home,” said Kayleigh.

“I owe her my life.”

Kayleigh, who works as a caregiver for Right at Home Mid Sussex said she had not told her daughter how to ring 999 and does not know how she learned to do it.

She described her daughter’s actions as ‘incredible’ and said that she and her husband, who works as a bus driver, have nominated Imogen for a Pride of Britain (Child of Courage) Award.

They are also planning to take her to Legoland.

The South East Coast Ambulance Service told the Middy that they are going to arrange a certificate for Imogen.

“Imogen was amazing,” said SECAmb’s Marianne Hardie, who took the 999 call.

“She stayed calm and did everything right so we could arrange help for her mum,” she added.

“The call really touched me as a mother of a young boy myself. I know Kayleigh must be very proud of her and wish her and Imogen all the very best for the future.”

Kayleigh thanked the ambulance team, as well as Right at Home client relationship manager Lou Berreen and her husband Ken, who looked after Imogen until Kayleigh’s mother Barbara Funnell could pick her up.