Search This Blog

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Table Talk Thursday - When "Nanny" means "Hero"

reprinted with permission

Nanny Tips talks with Alyson Myatt, nanny and hero, by Tara Lindsay

This past March, the nation applauded the heroic actions of a Kentucky nanny. This past week, that nanny graciously agreed to talk with me about her experience. I found Alyson Myatt to be a true example of who and what a nanny is and I feel deeply honored that she so openly and willingly shared her story with me for this blog.

More than a month after she risked her own life to save her 5 year old charge from a house fire, 22 year old nanny Alyson Myatt is still a little surprised at all of the attention she’s gotten for her heroic act. Doing her job and being who she is, according to Alyson, doesn’t feel like anything extraordinary.

Alyson says that becoming a nanny was a natural progression for her. As the sixth child of ten siblings, Alyson grew up helping to care for her younger siblings, nieces, and nephews. She started babysitting around the age of 15, was lifeguarding at 16, and by age 19 was working as a professional nanny in a career that she says is “like second nature.” Alyson nannied for several families in the Louisville, KY area and discovered a natural gift for connecting with autistic children. In the work of nannying, Alyson found that she loved “the little things that others often don’t notice…when the children smile, when they are laughing, those special little moments of connection that are so priceless.” Alyson, who is not working while she heals from her injuries, says, “I’m really going to miss those moments with Aden.”

Several months ago Alyson answered an ad for a new live-in nanny position in Shelbyville, KY, to care for 5 year old Aden Hawes. Alyson believes God led her to this particular position for what is now an obvious reason. “I saw the ad in a paper that I hardly ever look at and got excited about it.” It was Alyson’s first live-in position. She and Aden quickly developed a strong bond and affection for one another.

On a Monday night barely two months after starting the position, Alyson tucked Aden into bed completely unaware that less than 24 hours later she would be thrust into the national media spotlight as a hero and, for the nanny world, as a shining example of her profession.

At about 3 am on Tuesday, March 23, 2010, Alyson says she was awoken by the smoke detectors. She raced upstairs to find the bathroom fan on fire. The fan had not been working properly and somehow the switch to it had been turned on eventually causing the small fire. (There is currently an investigation underway to determine if the fan was defective and what, if any, liability may lie with the manufacturer.) Alyson turned off the switch and quickly put out the flames. After thoroughly checking the walls, ceiling and fan to be sure the fire was completely out Alyson called her dadboss, who was out of town on business, to let him know what had happened. She asked him if she should call the fire department but was told that probably wasn’t necessary. Following instructions, Alyson went back to bed thinking that the crisis was over.

Three hours later, around 6 am, Alyson was awoken again by a large “boom”. At first, she says, “I thought it was Aden.” In reality, the bathroom ceiling fan had caught fire again and the boom was the fan falling down to the floor. Like a good nanny, Alyson sprang from her bed to go check on her charge. As she once again raced back up the stairs she encountered a hallway engulfed in flames that firefighters say were as hot as 400 degrees. Aden was in his room, on the other side of the flames. Acting on instinct…an instinct prepared and honed by her years of childcare experience and training as a lifeguard on how to handle emergency situations…Alyson did not hesitate. “I didn’t think anything, I just acted.”

Barefoot, Alyson ran through the fire to Aden, entirely focused on getting to him with zero thought or regard for her own safety. The five year old, terrified and trapped, trusted that his nanny would save him. Scared for Aden’s safety, Alyson called to him as she ran through the flames to let him know she was on her way. “I’m here, Aly! I’m in my bed!” Alyson grabbed the child from his burning room and then, with him in her arms, ran back through the flames on her already badly burned feet to get him to safety. According to several media reports, fire officials stated that if she had waited even a minute to run to his rescue, Aden would not be alive today.

Once outside, Alyson loaded Aden into the minivan and used the tips of her toes to drive them both to safety at a neighbor’s house. Unable to walk and in excruciating pain, Alyson sent the boy to the neighbor’s door and told him to ring the doorbell until somebody answered.

Alyson was taken to the hospital by ambulance. She had second and third degree burns on her arms and hands, and third degree burns on her feet. The skin on her feet was hanging off in shreds. “I felt like I was walking on goo,” Alyson says, “but it was my feet.”

Aden, saved by the love and heroics of his nanny, was completely unhurt.

The next hours and days were a blur. Aden’s father was called and rushed home to Kentucky. Knowing his son was okay, J.B. Hawes raced from the airport directly to Alyson’s bedside to check on her well being and to try to find an adequate way to thank her for saving his child’s life

Alyson didn’t realize until Friday, three days after the fire, that her actions had garnered her so much attention and acclamation. When her sister finally showed her all the media reports and the national reaction, Alyson found it all “kind of overwhelming. I didn’t think it was a big deal.” She has been surprised at the number of people who have told her they would have gotten themselves out to call 9-1-1 and let the firefighters rescue the child. “I just did what was in line with who I am, I didn’t realize that was so rare.” While it may be rare outside the nanny world, it is lucky for Aden that Alyson is who she is. In interviews after the fire, Shelbyville Fire Chief Willard Tucker, who called Alyson’s actions “above and beyond normal heroics”, said that if Alyson had called the fire department and waited for them to get Aden that Aden would be dead.

In the immediate aftermath of Alyson’s injuries, doctors spoke of skin grafts and speculated about whether or not a full recovery was possible. They said she probably wouldn’t walk for six months. Three days after the fire and crying with agonizing pain the entire time, Alyson was up and walking. Her healing has continued to defy predictions. She has not needed a wheelchair or a walker, though she does use a cane for support when she walks. She did not need skin grafts, and was released from the burn unit after only a week. “My feet are healing really fast”, she said in our recent phone conversation. “I go to hyperbaric therapy three or four times a week and it is speeding up the healing but we don’t know exactly when it will all be done. Everybody heals differently.” She is now expected to make a full recovery.

Because the length of her recovery is uncertain, Alyson says she has asked Aden’s dad to hire a replacement nanny for Aden’s sake so that he has some stability and consistency in his care after this traumatic event. “I still see him and pick him up from school sometimes,” she says.

Meanwhile, the bills have been coming in. Alyson’s one week stay in the burn unit alone was $46,000. That doesn’t include the ambulance ride, emergency room services, hyperbaric therapy, and more. Without insurance it is a hefty burden but one that Alyson is not going to stress over. She is, she says, putting it in God’s hands.

When talking about being a nanny Alyson speaks with a love and passion common in our field. She talks of learning to be more patient and how, with children, you learn to not take things for granted. She talks with great affection for her charges and through it all it is easy to feel her enthusiasm and joy. Working as a nanny, she says, “I get a good feeling, like I’m achieving something really great.” It is a sentiment that most nannies can likely agree with.

Alyson is unsure as to whether or not she will seek another nanny position. After speaking with her, it is obvious that any family would be lucky to hire a nanny with her compassion and common sense. Alyson is primarily focused on recovering and figuring out what her options are. She is confident that God has a plan for her to follow, but for now it is too early to say what that might be. The nanny profession would certainly be lucky to claim her as one of our own.

Alyson has some advice for her fellow nannies, as well. “Be trained. Know CPR. Know how to use a fire extinguisher and know where it is kept. Have a fire plan.” She also eloquently sums up what motivates many nannies.

“Have your heart in the right place. If you’re not doing it for the children’s sake, then maybe you shouldn’t be doing it. You really have to have a heart for kids and for people in general.” This is crucial to being a good nanny because, as Alyson concludes, “You have people’s lives in your hands.”

If you’ve been inspired by Alyson’s story and would like to contribute to the Alyson C. Myatt Trust Fund to help cover the costs of her medical expenses, please visit for more information.


Link Within

Blog Widget by LinkWithin


How to reach & find us

You can email us at
regardingnannies (at) gmail (dot) com

Regarding Nannies Goal

The goal of Regarding Nannies is to bring together a variety of professional nanny related blogs and resources that will assist in projecting a professional image of the nanny industry. As well as serving as an information source for all nanny/child related topics and resources to nannies regardless of where they are on the career ladder.

Internet Copyright Notice

This website and its content is copyright of Regarding Nannies © 2009. All rights reserved.
Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:
you may print or download to a local hard disk extracts for your personal and non-commercial use only
you may copy the content to individual third parties for their personal use, but only if you acknowledge the website as the source of the material
You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.

  © Blogger template 'Perfection' by 2008

Back to TOP