BLOOMINGTON – Genie Arnold calls the freckles on her granddaughter’s face angel kisses.
Last February, that granddaughter – 6-year-old Jaden Padawan – played the role of an angel.
Without her acting so calmly and taking charge of the situation, I would have fallen into diabetic coma and probably passed away, said Arnold, whom Jaden calls Nana. She saved my life.
Last Saturday, the precocious youngster was presented with the Civilian Lifesaver Award at an annual awards ceremony hosted by IU Health Bloomington Hospital’s Emergency Medical Transport Service.
On Feb. 7, Jaden was at Arnold’s home, watching a movie with her in the living room. At about 8 p.m., Jaden noticed that Arnold’s eyes were glazed over.
She was sitting on the couch with her eyes open, but it was like she was in a trance, Jaden told The Herald-Times. I was scared.
Jaden’s fingers were shaking when she phoned her other grandmother, Joan Padawan, who was in St. Louis at the time.
Nana is asleep on the couch with her eyes open, and she won’t wake up, Jaden said.
Padawan called a family relative, who called 911 and got hold of dispatcher Freddy Sturgeon.
The caller said his niece was with someone who was ill, but he had no information about the location other than it was somewhere in Bloomington, Sturgeon said. I asked him to give me the phone number – then hang up, call his niece, and have her call 911. A minute later, just as I was about to call Jaden, she called 911.
Jaden told Sturgeon that Arnold was diabetic, and – after placing her hand on Arnold’s chest – that her heart was still beating. The youngster didn’t know Arnold’s home address, but did say she lived in Canterbury Apartments, near what she described as the tan and green colored playground.
Meanwhile, Jaden tended to the needs of her 1-year-old sister, Zeta, and used a dog biscuit to lure Arnold’s German shepherd/doberman mix onto the back porch and shut the door.
He’s very protective, Jaden said. I didn’t want him barking and growling at the paramedics when they came.
Jaden stayed on the phone with Sturgeon, informing him at one point that she saw a police car drive past her grandmother’s apartment.
Jaden was very composed, and was willing to do anything I asked her, Sturgeon said. I asked her to flash the front door light on and off, and she did.
Moments later, the police arrived, followed shortly by ambulance EMTs.
Arnold was given a peanut butter sandwich and some Mountain Dew, along with a concentrated sugar solution. Within minutes, her blood sugar level was back to normal and she was able to accurately answer the paramedics’ questions. She was not taken to the hospital.
What she did was amazing for a 6-year-old, said Arnold, 52. I hug her every day.
Jaden is thrilled she still has her Nana, whom she talks with every day on the phone and visits once or twice a week.
I love everything about her, Jaden said. And she loves me, too.
At the ceremony, Sturgeon was given a Public Safety Service Award.
We have four dispatchers in the room and they were all throwing out ideas that I was able to use, Sturgeon said. But as far as I’m concerned, the real hero is Jaden.
When Sturgeon was called on stage to receive his plaque, he said, This is really great, but instead of this plaque, I’d love to have a hug from that little girl.
Jaden jumped out of her seat, ran on stage, and threw her arms around Sturgeon.