101 Things the Fire Department wishes you knew



Friday, October 31

...fore the pediatric difficulty breathing...


Kids can scare a lot of rescuers and a lot can go wrong if you're not careful. Many times the parents are helpful, other times a hindrance, but one I met recently was downright rude and the universe let her know it.

THE EMERGENCY
Our young patient has had a cough for 4 days, ever since he got his flu shot, and has been keeping Mom and Dad awake tonight. Instead of trying a humidifier or a gentle cough medicine (as directed) she has decided to dose Jr with his brothers asthma medicine in the hopes it will quiet him down. 911 was called when the medicine wasn't doing the trick. A quick aside here, she absolutely should have called, its what happens in the end that I love so much!

THE ACTION
Anyone in the field will tell you kids are tough cookies and will go on breathing strong a lot longer than adults, but will also tire out suddenly and need help fast. With this in mind we convince mom to let us take Jr in so we can monitor him. She tells us what hospital to go to and we begin the walk downstairs to the ambulance when she tells us, "Let me get my shoes." Not unreasonable, he's not too heavy and is comfortable watching the fire engine drive away. Minutes pass with no sign of mom. Now I've had mothers jump in the ambulance in bath robes and one slipper to accompany their ill child, others scramble for a favorite toy or bear to make the child comfortable, this mom was looking for a proper scarf for the ride. This was a first for me.
She's got the scarf, shoes, bag, all accessories except, "I need my phone." It was then the decision was made we were leaving with the child and they could follow whenever she was ready. As we left the house mom comes running after demanding we wait. She climbs into the back of the ambulance where we've arranged for Jr to sit in her lap, in her arms so as not to be scared of the ambulance. She gave us a look of disgust much like Paris Hilton might give you if you offered her a ride in your '88 Trans Am. Putting the phone to her ear to argue with the husband not 30 feet away, my partner took over care as it was my turn to drive.
This story would not be as good if I was in the back because I was able to concentrate on the phone conversation she was having the ENTIRE drive in. Raising her voice about how it should be him in the ambulance, not her and how she'll likely get sick as as result. All the while our patient is quiet and doing just fine. We arrive at the hospital and into an exam room, phone still pasted to the ear against hospital staff requests to the contrary and that's when the universe stepped in. 'Call it fate, call it luck call it Karma.' We see Jr's body tense up a bit in mom's lap and I make a bee-line for the emisis basins, but not in time. The asthma medication has an interesting side effect we learned, as did mom's beloved scarf, now covered in vomit. Did she comfort the child? Did she try to help us clean him up? Nope, she was examining the scarf, then back on the phone.

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