HOUSTON (KRON/CNN) — If you became trapped by rising floodwaters and are experiencing a medical crisis, and neither 911 nor social media were able to get you help, what would you do?
A really bright ninth grader facing those circumstances during Hurricane Harvey thought to ask Siri.
The virtual assistant feature on the iPhone helped get the girl and her family to safety.
Fourteen-year-old Tyler Frank is safe now, but Tyler’s neighborhood in northeast Houston where Harvey hit her house is under water.
“I started crying because I was scared, and I didn’t know what to do,” Frank said.
To make matters worse, Tyler has sickle-cell anemia, and she started to have what’s called a sickle-cell crisis–parts of her body weren’t getting enough oxygen.
Her mother Tameko knew she was in danger.
“She was really, really sick,” Tameko said. “Her face had been turning blue, her mouth had been turning blue.”
Tyler was sick and shivering in the rain.
“The only thing…I had to cover myself up with was a towel, but the towel got wet,” Tyler said.
Even sick, Tyler thought on her feet.
She called the Coast Guard using Siri.
“I told him I was like scared for my life,” Tyler said. “We’re out here in the water. He was like, ‘Tyler, you’re one brave boy.’ No guy, he said guy, and I was like, ‘I’m a girl!’ And he was like, ‘Oh, you’re one brave girl.’ And I was like thank you.”
The next day, a Coast Guard helicopter arrived.
By then, Tyler had a 103-degree fever.
“He was asking, ‘Is anybody sick that needs to go?’ And I told him, ‘Yes. I have a child with sickle cell, and she’s very sick, and I need y’all to take her,’ and he was like, ‘We’re looking for the elderly, and we’ll come back and get the parents and the kids,'” Tameko said.
In a statement to CNN, the Coast Guard said, “Coast Guard first responders were faced with an overwhelming request for assistance due to Hurricane Harvey. On-scene rescue crews made determinations based upon emergent factors, i.e. immediate, life-threatening situations, and the conditions faced on the scene.”
As a result, Tyler and her family sat outside in the floodwaters for another day until another Coast Guard helicopter rescued them.
“I was crying, but it wasn’t sad tears,” Tyler said. “It was tears of joy because they came and got us and didn’t abandon us.”
Tyler’s calls saved her and her family from the storm.
She arrived at Texas Children’s Hospital where sickle-cell specialists treated her for four days.
Now, she, her mother, and four brothers are staying in a hotel by the highway.
“We don’t have (anywhere) to go,” Tameko said. “We don’t have (any) clothes on our back. We only have what’s been donated to us. Our car is gone. House gone. Everything’s gone. We have to start over.”
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