This past weekend, Deborah and I had the opportunity to listen to the Utah Junior High Honor Choir sing. It was a fabulous experience! The last song was the well-known spiritual "My God is a Rock." We both had chills all the way through. Those 300+ kids sang their hearts out and it was amazing!
Afterwards, as I was talking with our choir director, someone mentioned that a girl had fainted. I hopped up on stage and asked if anyone around her had medical training. One said she was a nurse, but when I mentioned that I had held an EMT certificate prior, she said, "oh good, then you'll be better than me." I'm not sure that's true but she left, so, whatever. Another woman came up and said she was a medical tech and we both started assessing.
Pulse was strong and steady, but pretty slow, and in the dim lighting, I couldn't get an eye on my second hand to count it. Breathing was shallow, but there. She hadn't hit her head going down, she'd been caught. Skin was good colored, but she wasn't waking up. We called for someone who knew her, were her parents there? No, she was from some distance away and they hadn't been able to come. But her friends and her teacher were there. Did she have any medical history that they knew of? No, except she'd been pretty sick earlier that week and had taken some Tylenol that morning. And she's still not waking or responding at all.
At that point she'd been out for more than five minutes. Now, if it had been my daughter, or if her parents had been there, it probably would have been different. But it wasn't. And we didn't know much more about her. So I turned to her director and told him I wanted paramedics. He was flustered, trying to help, but really didn't realize what was needed. I tried to tell him a couple of times, in between trying to keep an eye on this child, that I needed him to get the paramedics. Finally, it dawned on me. I wasn't being specific enough.
I turned to him, looked directly at his eyes and said, "I need paramedics on the way. Dial 911, they'll ask the questions, I'll feed you the answers you don't have." That he could do. I needed to give him something concrete and simple to follow. By now I've called for help so often, I've forgotten how nerve-wracking it can be to do that for the first time, how out of control that can make you feel.
I didn't really think that there was going to be a big problem, at least I hoped not, but if there was, I knew we didn't have any resources to deal with it. And if she was going to stay out, we needed those resources sooner than later.
It all turned out well. While he was on the phone with dispatch, she finally started to come to. Initially, we could only get a response to pain, then shortly after, she could respond to voice commands, although she wasn't verbal. She was really confused and disoriented when she did come around, but improved fairly quickly after that. By the time paramedics got there, she was verbal, although still quite hesitant and slow to respond, and making mistakes.
She was released back to her teacher after her parents were reached by phone, and we left about the same time the paramedics did (had to look for a lost glove before we left). But I think (I hope) I learned a valuable lesson here. When you're working outside someone's comfort zone, you have to give direct and simple instructions when something is needed. And it's okay that they're flustered or confused. Because that's not their norm. Sometimes I wish it wasn't mine, either.