Thursday, April 2, 2009

When 911 is Not an Option

I was in my kitchen, thinking about lunch, when I heard someone screaming my name in the front hallway. I ran out and found my neighbor, holding her baby in her arms, in an absolute panic.

The baby had stopped breathing, and as she told me later, when she realized that calling 911 wasn’t an option, she didn’t know what to do, so she picked him up and ran to my house.

It was scary, I can tell you now. Since it’s her baby, not mine, the details aren’t mine to share. Suffice to say that the baby is okay. His mom? Probably not so much. I’m pretty sure she’s having some nightmares still.

There is no 911 here. And we all know this, in theory, when we arrive, but the reality is frightening when it hits. I did a story on kid safety issues when I first arrived here, and I still remember interviewing the chief of the ER at the main hospital, who listed all the things he’s seen go wrong, and then said that we all need to be prepared to be our own first responders, because there’s no guarantee that an ambulance will arrive in time when we need one – and even if it does arrive, most ambulances don’t have EMTs aboard, just drivers. Indeed, my neighbor’s ayi was shaking when she told me she called the Chinese ambulance service and they said there were no cars available.

It’s a reality of overseas life, and has been everywhere we’ve lived so far, even in the big cities like Beijing. So we all cross our fingers that nothing happens, and we know which houses to run to when we’re in need.

In this particular case, I called the Embassy doctor’s emergency phone, and he talked us through what needed to be done. We then took the baby to a nearby clinic – he was breathing again, thankfully – and they checked him out before sending us on to the ER for further testing.

Every mom’s worst nightmare. And a reminder that we all – and you, too – need to update our first aid certifications.


globalgal said... [Reply]

Oh my gosh, so scary! I think I've commented about this on your blog before. I often think about how isolated we are in a small city with less than stellar medical facilities. I'm a registered nurse so I feel confident handling little emergencies, but... big things? Excellent advice that expats should consider first aid and CPR classes. I've been in a Chinese "ambulance." It was basically a van with a stretcher and we had to pay them before they would go anywhere!

Jessica said... [Reply]

I can't even imagine. I'm so glad you were able to help and great reminder to think about the emergencies before they happen.

A said... [Reply]

I almost know the feeling. Running over to the neighbours house in RG - who thankfully happened to be an American ped. NP - slightly hysterical about the 3 year olds swelling lips and eyes and tongue! Thankfully this same NP was also stocked like a mini ER and almost OD'ed him on Benadryl - even going the next step and telling our then PT CDC/EMB ped at the bus stop the next day about the anaphlaxis. A medivac later and we have the egg allergy diagnosis. Yikes and glad the baby turned out ok - and a hat in your feather to be the run to house!

Connie said... [Reply]

Kids involved in emergencies is terrifying even when you live next door to a very good hospital! It's even worse when you don't. No 911, no ambulances, no pediatric specialists, etc. :)

Jill said... [Reply]

My heart would be in my throat... thank goodness your Embassy doctor had a plan for you. So glad to hear it all worked out well in the end.

Connie said... [Reply]

I like how you state your opinions about kids and life - I have tagged you for a new meme called "Around the world in 80 Clicks" - which is being passed to mom bloggers around the world, asking what we like most about being a mom.


Michael Morse said... [Reply]

Hello, I'm a Rescue Lieutenant in Providence, RI and just found your blog. I've had too many babies that weren't breathing handed to me, and even though I AM 911 it is the worst experience imaginable. I'm happy for you and all ivolved that things worked out well.

"Cool heads prevail" in all emergency situations, even though you may be dying inside. So, stay cool, and keep up the good work!

Cha Cha said... [Reply]

THANKS YOU FOR SHARING, I have 911 but I can't imagine doing nothing while I waited for them to get to me. I need more training, and needed a fire lite to get it done. HAPPY NEW YEAR

Please. Write your own stuff.