Keeping calm in an emergency

By: Shannon M. Chow dad and baby hands 250

I recently received a phone call from a parent notifying me that his son could not make a play date to the pool with my step son because he had scraped his arm. With great concern I asked when this happened and how bad the injury was. The father’s reply was “oh a few days ago, my wife tells me it is down to the bone!” Oh dear! “did you go to the hospital for stitches?” I asked.  The answer did not match the description of the injury. I hung up the phone feeling frustrated and concerned.

I was concerned for the child. The poor kid was completely afraid to go outside, return to camp or step foot in the shower because mom & dad had made such a big fuss over this scrape. I was frustrated that as parents, they were not responsible enough to seek further medical treatment for something they thought was severe. In this case, if it was ‘down to the bone’ and required stitches, that window of opportunity is only a few hours long.

I understand how difficult it can be sometimes when you are unsure of how serious an illness or injury is and often times, we don’t want to come across as the over reactive parent. In order to give yourself peace of mind and to better guide you through the bumps and bruises of parenthood, arm yourself with the following resources:

  • Know your local emergency number. Stay calm when you call and follow the dispatcher’s directions. The calmer you are, the sooner help can arrive and the better they will understand the situation.
  • Know your local poison control number. This number is not the same as your local emergency number and they are not connected to each other. If possible, describe the poison in detail; slight variations of the same product often have very different side effects and therefore different treatments.
  • Know your municipal or provincial health line such as TeleHealth Ontario. This is a great resource to assist you 24-7.
  • Take a first aid & CPR class. Learn the basic skills including what to do for choking, breathing emergencies, scrapes, falls and burns. The best part is most communities have classes specifically for parents. Courses can be taken onsite at a training facility or even at home in some cases.

We expect all the above from our children’s babysitters, nannies, day care workers and teachers. So why is it as parents don’t expect the same of ourselves?

Shannon M. Chow is the President & Owner of Emergency Rescue Academy Inc. She is a certified First Aid & CPR Instructor with the Canadian Red Cross. Shannon has happily been teaching lifesaving skills to new parents for the last 10 years across the province of Ontario. or @ERAcademy_EMS on twitter.

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