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#181961 - 09/11/09 04:45 PM The Worst Moment of My Life (A Real Preps Test)
Jesselp Offline
What's Next?

Registered: 07/19/07
Posts: 263
Loc: New York
Long Post Warning!

Yesterday around noon I was sitting at my office considering writing a post about my experiences on 9/11/2001, which is what got me thinking about emergency preparations in the first place.

As I started to compose the post, my phone rang, and it was the babysitter telling me she thought my 15-month old son had a fever. I asked her to take his temperature, which she did, calling me back to tell me it was 102.4. No problem, I thought, and told her to give him 1.5 teaspoons of children's motrin and that he'd probably go take a long nap.

Five minutes later she called back and told me she was a bit uncomfortable because my son just did not "look right." OK, no problem. I called the pediatrician to get a sick visit, with the intention of sending the babysitter over there with my son.

As I was on hold with the doctor's office, my phone rang again. Now she said she was scared, and as we were talking said something I hope no parent ever has to hear, "Oh my God, his breathing is not right. His lips are turning blue!"

My heart nearly burst out of my chest as I said, as calmly as I could, “hang up the phone and call 911. Call me back when you get to the emergency room.” I have never felt so helpless and powerless in my life. I was 20-miles away and though I did not know what was wrong with him, I feared that my son's life was in the hands of his babysitter and whoever responded to the 911 call.

I have a small advantage in that I volunteer with our local ambulance squad, and I intended to press that advantage for all it was worth. I immediately called the chief of our department on his cell phone and told him he was about to get toned out for my son, and to please take good care of him. The chief was unfortunately out of the district and could not get to my house, but he worked his phone for all it was worth – half the ALS techs in the department were on the road before the tones went off.

The police arrived at my house very quickly and put my son on oxygen. Rescue arrived a few minutes later. One tech I spoke with described my son's condition as “extremely lethargic,” and another said he was “unresponsive,” and he remained that way all the way to the hospital. The Nassau County Police Department and the City of Long Beach Police went all out to help my son, and shut down the roads between my house and the hospital, giving the ambulance a full escort to the emergency room. The babysitter called my cell phone on their arrival, and I gave the ER my son's medical history and permission to do whatever they thought was necessary to help him.

By the time I arrived at the hospital about 45 minutes later (my company kindly provided me with a livery car and driver to get to the hospital, as I commute by public transportation)), the doctors had determined that he most likely had suffered a febrile seizure, though one of somewhat unusual duration. While very scary, febrile seizures are not uncommon, and generally cause no long-lasting damage (other than that once you've had one, you are more likely to have another). They are caused by a rapid change in body temperature, and kids usually outgrow them by age 7 or 8. Relieved, I went to comfort my very unhappy toddler (he had two IV sticks and a urinary catheter) and keep him occupied for the three hours they wanted to observe him. He's been doing fine today, and seems like himself, though himself with a fever.

So, what did I learn?

First, the bad:
- Nothing prepares you for hearing that your kid may not be breathing, and will be going to the hospital in an ambulance. It was honestly the most terrifying moment of my life, and I've been through some bad stuff (like hiding under a car to escape raining debris on 9/11/01)

- While it worked this time, it would be better if the ER did not have to contact me for permission to treat my son. We need to have signed permission to treat forms for the babysitters, and keep them somewhere obvious.

- I would be happier if the babysitter had called 911 on her own initiative, but in general I think she did well with the situation.

Now the good:
- Our babysiter was really in touch with how my son was doing. She noticed his fever, correctly identified that something was not right, and called for help when she needed it. She was great on the trip to the hospital (she was strapped to the gurney holding my son) and trying to keep him calm in the ER before I could get there.

- The local emergency services and hospital were top notch. While I expected the best from the ambulance, as I know them, I was particularly impressed by the police and hospital. When informed by radio that an ambulance was inbound with a very sick child, the head of emergency medicine made his way to the ER to personally treat my son.

- I managed to stay relatively calm. I made the phone calls I needed to make, and rationally gave information to people who needed it.

What we'll be doing differently:

- I'm going to make a “medical go-envelope” for each of my kids. It will contain all of my and my wife's contact information, signed permission to treat forms, medical histories, and insurance information. It will be conspicuously posted near the door so that whomever is home can grab it on the way to the hospital in an emergency.

- I'm going to have a formal debrief with the babysitter to let her know how much we appreciate her work, and give some suggestions for the future (like taking the initiative to call 911 if she's scared. She's a nursing student, so I know that she knows what to do, I just think she'd never been confronted with a real emergency before and got scared.).

I hope some of you can learn something from this experience. In the end, my son received excellent care, and he's going to be fine, even if his mom and dad aged about ten years in the course of a few minutes.
A blog about adventure
in and around New York

#181962 - 09/11/09 05:00 PM Re: The Worst Moment of My Life (A Real Preps Test) [Re: Jesselp]
GoatMan Offline

Registered: 08/17/07
Posts: 106
Considering you, medically trained & the father, also discounted the babysitter's first two calls, I'd say she did a darn fine job. Yea, she could have dialed 911 before you the third time, but I'd suspect your council got in the way of her judgement. Perhaps a "something to do differently" bullet item would be not to dismiss the babysitter/nurses judgement.

This is not a personal attack by any means. But thinking about this in the third person, it is something we can all learn from.

#181963 - 09/11/09 05:06 PM Re: The Worst Moment of My Life (A Real Preps Test) [Re: Jesselp]
Blast Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/15/02
Posts: 3561
Loc: Spring, Texas
Wow, scary. I'm glad everything worked out okay!

You mention pre-signed medical consent forms. Is there an actual form for this or do you just write on a peice of paper "Please do whatever is necessary" and sign the bottom? Does it need to be witnessed/notarized? I'd really like to know the proper way to do this.

Blogging the Borderlands
Wild Edibles Blog
I miss OBG.

#181966 - 09/11/09 05:38 PM Re: The Worst Moment of My Life (A Real Preps Test) [Re: Blast]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2816
Loc: Alberta, Canada
That's a heart-stopping post. Very glad to hear a positive outcome.

I think your babysitter is a gem.

If I may suggest:

1. A big tip (i.e., BIG)

2. A thank you note in the paper for all who stepped in to help

3. A letter of reference for the young lady, describing the event and how her attentiveness and prompt actions made a difference.
This should be the sort of thing she can include (photocopy) with her resume. In a tough job market, this could help make a high quality candidate stand out. She seems like the kind of person I would want as a nurse.

#181970 - 09/11/09 06:02 PM Re: The Worst Moment of My Life (A Real Preps Test) [Re: Jesselp]
Wheels Offline

Registered: 12/19/08
Posts: 55
Loc: Central Virginia
I have twice gotten to the hospital before my son - knowing they would bring him in totally strapped to a backboard with neck support. Both times he was ok (in a flipped convertible and during a wrestling practice). Your post sure brought back those memories. So glad your child is ok. Nothing scarier.

Regarding written consent for your child to be treated - - we asked his pediatrician and checked with an attorney we know and they said pretty much the same thing - - write it up yourself and sign it. In fact, the doc said we didn't really need it because, in the absence of a parent, a hospital will treat a child anyway. Hope somebody here has a link or something to a more official form. My son is 19 now so it's not an issue but others will want to know.

Edited by Wheels (09/11/09 06:06 PM)
Edit Reason: clarification/grammar

#181973 - 09/11/09 06:13 PM Re: The Worst Moment of My Life (A Real Preps Test) [Re: Wheels]
Todd W Offline
Product Tester

Registered: 11/14/04
Posts: 1928
Loc: Mountains of CA
Wow, that is terrible!

I am glad the lilguy is doing better today I can't imagine how you felt being away when you got that call.

I would check with the hospital about the signed forms to makes sure they are accepted or needed if you were not there.
Self Sufficient Home - Our journey to self sufficiency.

#181978 - 09/11/09 06:22 PM Re: The Worst Moment of My Life (A Real Preps Test) [Re: Jesselp]
big_al Offline

Registered: 01/04/06
Posts: 586
Loc: 20mi east of San Diego
Just because you asked:

Child Care Authorization


To: Whom it May Concern

The purpose of this letter is to advise you of the authority given to _________________ (“Child Care Provider”) over _______________________________________ (“Minor Children”).

This grant of temporary authority shall begin on _____________ and end on __________, unless terminated earlier by any of the undersigned.

The above Child Care Provider shall have the absolute and final authority to:

1. Seek appropriate medical treatment or attention on behalf of the Minor Children as may be required by the circumstances, including but not limited to, medical doctor and/or hospital visits.
2. Authorize medical treatment or medical procedures in an emergency situation.
3. Make appropriate and necessary decisions regarding clothing, bodily nourishment, and shelter.
4. Explain absences from school; pick Minor Children from school.
5. Sign release forms for sports and field trips.

Thank you for your understanding, cooperation and prompt adherence to this authorization.

Yours very truly,

________________ _________________ _________________
Parent 1 Parent 2 Child Care Provider

Names of Children;
Social Security Numbers, if available

add or delete Items

Edited by big_al (09/11/09 06:24 PM)
Some people try to turn back their odometers.
Not me, I want people to know "why" I look this way
I've traveled a long way and some of the roads weren't paved

#181984 - 09/11/09 06:58 PM Re: The Worst Moment of My Life (A Real Preps Test) [Re: big_al]
7point82 Offline

Registered: 11/24/05
Posts: 478
Loc: Oklahoma
Wow. I'm very glad to hear that he's going to be OK.
"There is not a man of us who does not at times need a helping hand to be stretched out to him, and then shame upon him who will not stretch out the helping hand to his brother." -Theodore Roosevelt

#181985 - 09/11/09 07:02 PM Re: The Worst Moment of My Life (A Real Preps Test) [Re: big_al]
Blast Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/15/02
Posts: 3561
Loc: Spring, Texas
Thanks Al!
Blogging the Borderlands
Wild Edibles Blog
I miss OBG.

#181986 - 09/11/09 07:08 PM Re: The Worst Moment of My Life (A Real Preps Test) [Re: big_al]
Wheels Offline

Registered: 12/19/08
Posts: 55
Loc: Central Virginia
Great form.

One thing I didn't mention in my post - my son's doctor said that if you write and sign a consent form, be sure to include dental care along with medical care. Apparently there has been some confusion/debate about that. So, if your child breaks a tooth, a dentist might be hesitant to treat it with a consent form that only specifies medical care.

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