By their very nature, accidents and emergencies are unexpected events. Parents are never ready when something awful happens to their child. It catches parents off guard and often muddles their thinking at a time when sharpness and clarity are needed. However, there are steps a parent can take prior to the event that will help them get through it. Here are some suggestions for you.
First, if you don’t already know, ask your child’s doctor for a recommendation regarding which hospital and walk-in clinic are best to use outside of the doctor’s clinic hours. He or she will be able to tell you which ones they are connected with. If you frequently travel away from home, say to grandma’s house 3 or 4 hours away, also check out emergency services in those areas. In addition, if you have more than one child, have the phone number of someone you can call on to watch your other children so you can attend to the one.
Next, always carry proof of medical insurance. You also want to have written down somewhere safe and handy (or in notes on your phone) your child’s doctor’s name and phone number as well as the pharmacy you will use if medicine is prescribed. Of course, you know if your child is taking medicine, but if you can’t name it, write that down for safekeeping too. Keeping a list in the glove compartment of the car can also be helpful. Be aware of family medical history; if you are unsure, now is the time to ask about it as some inherited conditions first show up as an emergency.
Know that many emergencies, such as cuts that need stitching, pulled joints, and many broken bones, can be taken care of at the doctor’s office during clinic hours or at a walk-in after-hours clinic. In these cases, stabilize the injury and then call before you leave home in case the medical professional needs to redirect you elsewhere.
In cases of unconsciousness or mental confusion, severe breathing difficulty, trauma to the head or neck, or severe cramping, call 911. If in doubt, call. In most emergencies they will send transport because you cannot drive and attend to a child this sick. In addition, the medics are able to start care as soon as they arrive. Remember to grab your child’s favorite cuddle toy and story book for E.R. visits. You will need to comfort and care for your child while waiting for doctors and the tests they order. Remember that emergency rooms doctors see the most serious cases first. When you look at it that way, having to sit longer in the waiting room is really a good thing
The one thing you should not do in any emergency with your child is panic. You have to stay calm, deal with questions and comfort your child. If you appear anxious, your child will become more stressed and his level of discomfort will increase. Be as matter of fact as possible, while giving him plenty of attention. You are stronger than you know. You will get through this for your child’s sake.
Evelyn Satterlee, M.Ed.