Friday, November 30, 2012

EMS Tips

Here are some of the thoughts I've had going through my head about our EMS (Emergency Medical System: Police, Fire, Paramedics, etc) and me as a consumer. (And yes, we've gotten to know them well in the past few years. I think the term is "frequent flyer," or maybe "professional patient".) And let me preface this by saying that Lone Peak Fire District is awesome! It may be that the way they work and interact is standard across the industry, but I frankly don't know (which is just fine, by the way). I just know I think we've got some of the best, most compassionate people working in our area, and we're really grateful for them.

When I call 911, I want exactly what anyone wants.  I want them to swoop in on their shiny red trucks, wave a magic wand, sprinkle a little pixie dust, and make everything all right again.  I did see this once, when an elderly gentleman took his insulin but didn't eat soon enough.  The magic wand was an IV and the pixie dust was put in the line.  A short 12 minutes later we were on our way and everything was normal.  But that's not going to happen with Aaron.

When I call 911, I'm going to stay in control, but barely.  See, if I lose it, I know dispatch won't be able to understand me.  But that's my baby, my heart and soul that's struggling to breathe.  So I'm scared.  And when, finally, forever later (like three minutes) you guys get here, I will be soooo glad to see you.  But I'm still scared, so I'm probably not thinking completely clearly.  Since you need to know what meds he's taking, you probably need his chart, or if I don't have it, then his medicine bottles, 'cause there's a pretty good chance I may forget something.  

Please give me something to do, anything.  I want to help.  It may just be warming a blanket in the dryer to help protect him from the cold.  And talk to me.  Tell me what you're doing.  If he needs an IV, I know where you're most likely to find success.  And I can help hold him.  Heaven knows, I've done it enough in the hospital.  And he knows me, which will help him relax, too.  If you ask my permission, even for something like an IV that must be done, I'll feel like I have some input.  Yes, of course you can cut his clothes off, but if you ask as you're doing it, it can help me.  And while I'm not your patient, my sense of control and well-being will transfer to him.  So if you ask me if you can shave his head, no problem.  Heck, I'd let you shave my head if you though it could help him.  

Please, let me stay with him.  He's my baby, my little one.  No matter how old a child gets, when they're sick or hurt, they're still a baby to mom.  And if my child is medically fragile, YOU want me near him.  If I'm in the back with you, I can tell you if he's just trying to burp (a no-big-deal that's freaked out doctors and respiratory therapists), or if that slight mottling that doesn't look like much really is a very big deal.  If I'm following behind, or in the front of the ambulance, I won't know, and neither will you.  

Ask me what I need to have at my fingertips on the ride.  Ambulances are well-stocked machines.  They're great!  But in an already dicey situation, it's nice to have exactly what you're used to working with.  And while a syringe of saline will work in a pinch to clear a trach, a saline bullet is just that much easier.  And we don't even want to think about having to exchange a trach for an ET tube.  But I carry all that plus much more with me in his emergency bag.  And I know exactly where it is.

Aaron with some of our local heros at his 1st birthday.

But mostly, if I forget to say "thank you," please know that I mean it from the bottom of my heart.  I hope I don't forget.  I really do.  Because I am so grateful for all that you do.  While you may not have a magic wand or pixie dust, you do bring hope and help.  And when you leave a nice warm bed to come to my son's rescue, there is not much that could mean more to me.  You'll even tell me that it's okay, you were about to get up anyway.  But I know better.  Because even paramedics don't get up at 4 a.m., unless it's for the tones.  So thank you, from a grateful mom (who thankfully hasn't seen you for a while!) and her family.  You are our heros.

"Human beings are made up of flesh and blood, 
and a miracle fiber called courage"
-George Patton 

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