I have been in the parenting game for 14 years, and until this week have never had a 911
emergency. Since my firecracker of a third child has blessed us with this recent emergency situation, I could not let it go without writing about it!
Calm Before the Storm
Just like all things in life, it happened in an instant. We went from a perfectly peaceful Wednesday evening on the patio to a gut wrenching, panic filled, adrenaline pumping, quick decision making kind of moment.
My family had just finished up a 10 day quarantine, and we were delighted to be together again. The hubby was at the grill cooking delicious burgers, my oldest (14) and youngest (3) were playing in the kitchen, and my middle daughter (9) was in her room. This gave me the perfect opportunity to water plants on the patio and enjoy a quiet space and warm summer air. My little one came out and asked if she could have a life saver, and I answered, of course, without much thought. She had eaten this particular life saver mint many times before.
Here comes the storm
As I continued to enjoy my few moments of peace outside, I heard panic on the inside of the house. My oldest yelling, “Cough! Cough! Cough!” She quickly ran out holding her little sister who was gagging and turning a deep shade of purple. In typical 3 year old fashion, she hopped and skipped around the kitchen eating her lifesaver when suddenly it slid down her esophagus and was obstructing her airway. I know what you’re thinking. It’s a life saver, it has a hole in it. Although that is true, things took a sudden turn when she also started spitting up with the life saver still blocking her airway. I am sure you can picture this scene … choking child, panicked mother, husband ready to take action, and teenage daughter ready and willing to call 911.
For most of my career I have worked in places that require CPR and first aid certification. I have sat through numerous classes giving mouth to mouth resuscitation to mannequins and relieving choking baby dolls with the Heimlich maneuver; however, in this moment I was frozen. Really throwing me off, was the fact that she never stopped breathing. So do you do the Heimlich on a child who is moving air, has an obstructed airway and is also vomiting? In those few moments, so many scenarios flashed through my head. My husband’s first instinct was to hop in the car and drive to an urgent care around the corner, and my teenager continued to yell, CALL 911, as I contemplated the Heimlich maneuver.
We decided to call 911, teenager for the win! I was greeted by a very calm and rational voice on the other end of the line. Immediately, she went through a couple of questions and assured me no action was needed, continue to monitor and help was on the way.
Heroes in our Backyard
Living very close to a fire station, I heard sirens almost immediately after hanging up with the 911 operator. We continued to watch my daughter struggle to breathe; however, the life saver broke loose almost exactly as the fire truck pulled up. She started breathing normally and quickly calmed down.
We were greeted at our front door by 8-10 incredibly kind and loving firemen, first responders and paramedics. They really come prepared! Fortunately, we did not need major intervention or life saving efforts. The image of those uniformed men in my foyer remains frozen in my head. Particularly, the beauty of having this service available, their timely arrival and willingness to jump right into situations where most would want to run in the other direction. To all of the emergency workers in our community, you are amazing!
In the end, one paramedic with a stethoscope listening to my baby girl’s lungs was all it took to calm our nerves. He spoke to her calmly and gently. Initially, she wanted nothing to do with him but they ended with a high five and smiles on both ends.