My Most Horrifying Playground 911 Call
Parks and playground structures are an essential part of parenting life. Not only is it a place you can take your kids to go hang out so that they aren’t cooped up inside all day long but it’s also a place that is FREE and the kids love it.
It’s also the perfect place to have a playdate. Kids can run around with each other and the moms can socialize.
The only downfall to being at the park is actually what makes the park so fun...the play structures. There’s an injury waiting to happen at every park.
And as a 20-year firefighter/paramedic, I can only recall a small handful of 911 calls at a park or playground that actually were serious. Most of which were the result of someone doing what they shouldn’t have been doing.
For example, this most serious 911 call I responded to that I will never forget...
“A 5-year-old child climbed above the monkey bars. He was pretending that he was walking a tightrope across a “sea of lava”. He lost his balance while walking and fell through the monkey bar handles. He hit his head twice on the way down. Once on the handles and the second on the ground. It was about a 6 to 8-foot fall.
When we got there, the child was unresponsive. Any first responder can attest to feeling very scared when approaching a child that is quiet. This child presented with agonal and snoring respirations. In other words, he was barely breathing. He had a small amount of blood coming from his ears which indicated a skull fracture and his pupils were unequal. Everything summed together meant major head trauma.
We started breathing for him by placing a tube down his throat and secured him to a board to ensure there was no further injury to his spine. Unfortunately, his spine was the least of our concerns. We loaded him up in the ambulance and off we went to the trauma center. He had multiple seizures in the back of the ambulance in which we had to give him anti-seizure medications for. We fought hard for his life, but unfortunately his tiny brain could not handle the amount of force inflicted on it”.
There’s not much the average person without medical training can do for someone with a head injury. Prevention is the key for head injuries. From a medical professional who has seen one too many accidents, please keep a mindful eye on your children when they are playing in and around the playground.
If your child has a head injury, keep an eye for any headaches, visual disturbances, balance issues, nausea, or they are slow to respond and seek medical attention as soon as you can.
Another 911 pediatric call that was also critical but luckily had a positive outcome was for a child on a school playground…
"A 10 year old student with a known allergy to bee stings got stung while playing on the school playground during recess. The school staff had an Epi-Pen provided by the child’s parents. The staff promptly administered the Epi-Pen and the child’s allergic reaction subsided.
They called the parents who were on the way to the school. While waiting, the child went into another allergic reaction. Come to find out, the bee stinger was still in place injecting venom into the child.
911 was then called. When we got there, the child was trying to breathe, but couldn’t. She had tears of fright running down her face as she fought for her own life. Her airway was rapidly closing and she was going into respiratory (breathing) failure.
As always, we worked rapidly and gave her 2 additional doses of medication and put a tube down her throat to help her breathe and prevent her airway from completely closing.
We loaded her up in the ambulance and drove code 3 (aka super fast!) to the hospital. When we got to the emergency department, her symptoms had resolved and the hospital staff was able to remove her breathing tube that I had placed.
Her mom had met her at the hospital. They reunited at the bedside and they both hugged and cried. I couldn’t help but tear up seeing this happy mother and daughter moment.
AND this is why I do what I do".
The points to take away from this story is to have an Epi-Pen with you if there’s a known allergic reaction. Call 911 or seek immediate medical attention even with an Epi-Pen as their airway can close quickly and will cause respiratory failure.
I’ve had a number of severe allergic reactions from bee stings and being exposed to different allergens. Many people carry Epi-Pen which is definitely a life saver, but they still need medical care. The Epi-Pen is only meant for the quick immediate action but will wear out after 5 mins.
Now on the flip side, there are definitely very minor injuries that happen all the time at the playground.
Here are some typical scenarios that I’m sure most of you have come across at one time or another, and if you haven’t, be prepared…
- Kids are running too fast, trip over an uneven pavement, fall and scrape their knees and hands.
- Your child is climbing the play structure, fall and breaks an arm.
- A bunch of kids are playing chase with one another and one of them twists and sprains his ankle
- Parks with wooden play structures or wooden benches means one thing, splinters in the fingers.
- Kids riding their bikes, hit a bump and lose control of their bike, fall down and end up with a huge gash on their leg from their leg getting caught between the pedals.
These are all very easy to manage injuries that any mom or dad can easily handle if they make sure they always have a good first aid kit on hand.
There’s nothing like having your child run up to you with a bleeding cut on their finger and you have no way to stop it.
Which is why we have put together our handy Take Along First Aid Kit that fits perfectly in a diaper bag or purse without taking up much room. It has all the basic essentials that you will need to treat all those pesky minor injuries that the kids tend to get themselves into. We make it easy to be prepared.
All in all, the playground is a very safe place and it’s ultimately up to the parents to make it safe for their children. In most things involving children, prevention is everything. Things like wearing safety equipment (i.e. helmets) and good ole supervising (making sure they’re not doing what they shouldn’t by doing).
I recommend to all parents to take a first aid and CPR class for kids. It’s a very good class that will give the knowledge, skills and abilities to be able to handle the everyday “small emergencies” and confidence to handle more serious emergencies.
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