Accident and injury have no age limit | This month’s thoughts
Each morning before a shift, a thought crosses my mind: “what am I going to see today?”
It is strange to think about the person driving to work, or the child walking to school, who doesn’t yet know that they will meet me.
No parent ever wants to receive the phone call telling them their son or daughter is in danger. But accident and injury have no age limit. Last year, we treated 181 patients under the age of 18 – an average of 15 each month. Of these, 82 were under five years old.
As Critical Care Paramedics, we don’t want anything bad to happen to people. But, if it does, we want to be there to give them the best possible chance of survival.
When that call comes in and we know we are headed off to a scene where a child is seriously ill or injured, time is of the essence. Our specialist crews are trained in how to treat young patients and teams always carry paediatric equipment on board.
The point we meet a child is a pivotal moment, it could go one way or the other. It is an extra challenge because you essentially have two people to care for: the child and the parent.
When a child is severely injured, it can be a highly stressful scenario. Crews need to work quickly to keep the child – and their family – calm and reassured while delivering the vital care they need. When you are in the moment, you just get on with the job and you put personal feelings and emotions aside. It’s often only afterwards that you take stock of what happened.
That could be my daughter.
I remember an incident last year when we were called to treat a child who was a similar age to my young daughter. A 22-month-old had been hit by a car and we quickly set about administering an anaesthetic before flying the toddler to the John Radcliffe in Oxford. I remember looking across and catching the eye of the toddler’s mother. I saw the fear in her face, and I thought: “that could be my daughter”. Those jobs stick with you.
Thankfully, that child went onto have a full recovery, which is in a large part down to the level of care we can provide over and above a land ambulance. Everything we do for our young patients is thanks to the amazing support from our community, whose donations mean we can always remain fully equipped to provide top-quality paediatric care.
Some days are tougher than others, but I feel proud to play a part in keeping our community safe and well. When I finish my shift, I’m back to my most important role: Dad.
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