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.