After a seven-year-old boy found his dad in a state of diabetic shock, he jumped on his bike and raced across a busy freeway to find help. Luckily, he was seen by a former teacher who quickly came to his aid.
Last Wednesday, Cameron Simoncic arrived home to find his father lying unconscious on the kitchen floor, most likely suffering from hypoglycemia.
“My dad has diabetes,” the second-grader said. “Whenever he has these episodes and whenever it happens, his brain can’t function.”
According to the American Diabetes Association, hypoglycemia is a condition that occurs when blood glucose is lower than normal, generally less than 70 mg/dL. Symptoms include hunger, anxiety, shaking, perspiration, faintness or light-headedness, drowsiness, and confusion. If untreated, hypoglycemia can lead to unconsciousness. It is usually treated by ingesting a carbohydrate-rich food such as a glucose tablet, juice, or an injection of glucagon if the person is unconscious or unable to swallow.
While deciding what to do, the South Carolina boy attempted to use his dad’s cell phone to call 911 but couldn’t unlock the device. He then ran to his neighbors', but they were out.
“I knocked on the doors but neither of them were home,” Cameron told WSPA, “so I got on my bike and tried to ride to my grandma’s.”
To get to her home five miles away, Cameron crossed four lanes of traffic to reach the highway. By chance, Keller Sutherland, a former teacher of the boy's, saw him on his bike from her car.
“I just told my husband, I said, ‘There’s a small child on his bicycle riding down the road, I’m not sure what’s going on, but I feel like I need to just turn around and see what’s going on,’ ” she said.
Sutherland, who was Cameron’s teacher in pre-school, pulled over and attempted to calm the boy down until emergency services arrived. “The ambulance came, the firemen came,” Cameron said. “The firemen were really nice to me.”
Cameron led the paramedics to his home where they gave his father a shot to stabilize his blood-sugar levels. Interestingly, Sutherland said she had been contemplating abandoning teaching, but the experience convinced her otherwise.
“There’s no doubt that God placed me where he did when he needed me,” she said.
In 2015, 30.3 million Americans, or 9.4% of the population, were diagnosed with diabetes, and roughly 1.25 million American children and adults have type 1 diabetes. Of the 30.3 million adults with diabetes, 23.1 million are diagnosed, and 7.2 million are undiagnosed. 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes each year.
Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the US in 2015, with 79,535 death certificates listing it as the underlying cause of death, and a total of 252,806 death certificates listing diabetes as an underlying or contributing cause of death, says the American Diabetes Association.