Every single day, accidents and illness happen to children. This is a line thrown about a lot, but think about it for a moment. Every single day! Chances are your closest emergency department is treating a child right now.
So how do you deal with a distressing situation when it happens to your child, or any other child, and you have to be the one to take charge?
Take heart, you're human and being highly emotional is extremely likely. The biggest factor with staying calm in a crisis is simply a matter of knowing what to do.
Let's think about the main reasons a person panics during a medical crisis:
Now, let's look at the same points, but this time from the point of view of our ER doctors and paramedics at a distressing medical emergency. They are not panicking. Why?
So, how do we stay calm during a crisis? Let's try to take a leaf out of the educated professional's book with each point:
Here's an example:
Your child is having an asthma attack and using a nebuliser machine to help them to breathe. If you come in the room screaming doom, your child's breathing will not improve as you've just transferred your panic to them.
Now let's turn this around. You walk in the room and calmly say, "you're already looking better, that's it, and you're doing well. We have an ambulance on the way, I won't leave you, okay."
The machine is helping your child breathe, but your reaction is stopping the situation from getting worse. What's more, you know you have to look calm for your child, and in doing so you're automatically less panicked. It's a positive cycle as you're actually helping yourself to calm down as you're talking to the child, keeping them calm.
This is also true for an unconscious child. Unconsciousness is best defined as no response. This child cannot talk, cannot move, and cannot even blink, moan or most importantly, take care of their own airway. If you take care of their airway by placing them in the recovery position (laying on their side for child/adult, in your arms face down supporting the head for a baby) then you are helping this child live.
The last sense to leave a human being is hearing, so continue to calmly talk to a child, even if they are unable to respond using their other senses. And remember, that this will in turn help you to remain calm yourself and think more clearly.
Humans are the only living creatures who ignore their instincts.
Nobody knows your child (or grandchild) like you do, not even doctors. Doctors are wonderful when it comes to advanced skills and medicine.
Remember, if something's not right to you, it's probably not right. If you're questioning whether or not to take a child to a doctor, the answer is always yes. Your questioning it means the thought is there. Think of the worst-case scenarios:
You don't take your child to a doctor...worst-case scenario, they ended up really needing it.
You take the child to a doctor... worst-case scenario, they ended up not needing it.
Always go with the second out of these options. If you're not sure, get sure!
The most stressful situations are the ones we know the least about.
It's important to stress that learning first aid is best done by doing a course conducted by a qualified first aid trainer as there's a lot of information for each topic. There are a lot of topics and it's good to be able to ask questions at the time of a course.
The following section is a reminder of how many ‘what ifs' can happen and how much you really need to know in order to keep calm and in control as a parent attending to a child:
Of course, first aid is not as simple as the examples just given, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Always know what to do by means of a first aid course. Each of these scenarios will be covered in greater detail at a first aid course, giving you more confidence to deal with a child (or adult) calmly.
But to be sure you don't get confused, let's look at each of these from a different angle:
From here I'm sure you're already thinking of the ‘what ifs' and have questions regarding each scenario. That's great!
This means you're more confident (believe it or not) when it comes to dealing with a first aid situation. The more you question, the more you learn, and the more comfortable you'll become in a crisis.
Knowledge is power! Stay safe.
*autoinjector of epinephrine (adrenaline)
Article written by Michelle Fiddian. Michelle is a former trainer at 000 Ambulance, and a qualified first-aid teacher. www.littleaid.com.au