When dealing with children in a basic ambulance job there are two types of parents – the calm sensible ones, and the flappers. Calm sensible parents are preferred, they keep the child calm, can give you a full and complete history and are a pleasure to have in the back of the ambulance. Flappers are another matter.

Our call was to a nine year old girl with a nosebleed, they lived less than two minutes from their local hospital and the presence of a car in their driveway had me rolling my eyes. The front door was opened by the patient's mother, she was literally running backwards and forwards with tears streaming from her eyes. She could hardly talk because she was so upset and her breathing was just a shade short of becoming full blown hyperventilation.

Obviously I had a moment where I though that the child was more seriously ill than a simple nosebleed.

Then our patient walked around the corner, she had a bit of kitchen towel held up to her nose, but there wasn't any active bleeding. There was one or two drops of blood on her blouse and otherwise she looked fine.

I finally got the mother to calm down enough to explain what had happened. Well, I say calmed down, what she actually did was thrust a piece of paper into my hands. The child had ITP, an often mild clotting disorder. Examining the child it seemed that the nosebleed had already stopped and there was a large jelly-like clot in her nose. The best thing to do is to leave well enough alone and give the wound plenty of time to clot – if you start fiddling around with it then the chances are good that the bleeding will start again.

There wasn't enough blood loss to fill an eggcup.

But still the mother cried, ran up and down and generally did her best to inadvertently scare the child. While the child seemed quite sensible (she'd done the right thing in clamping the kitchen towel to her nose) she was obviously frightened by the mother.

So I turned on my 'everyone keep calm' demeanour. I tried to calm the mother down, I told her how it wasn't serious, how the bleeding had stopped and how the blood loss was tiny. I showed both of them the vital signs that I took and explained how they were all fine and if it were anything serious then the pulse would be higher, the blood pressure would be lower and the breathing more rapid. But the mother didn't listen.

Instead of going to the local hospital (with a perfectly fine paediatric department) the mother demanded that they go to the Royal London where the child was under the haematologists. I explained that the Royal London didn't have any paediatric beds (because we'd just come from a transfer from there to another hospital) and that the local hospital would be able to cope just fine. But the mother flapped and fretted and so I agreed that we would drive past the local hospital and down the road a few miles so she could go to the Royal London.

So we set off for the hospital, the bleeding remained stopped and the mother seemed to calm down a bit. But then every few minutes she would dart forward and scream 'It's red!' and pluck the kitchen towel from the child's nose causing the patient to cry.

Later in the day I could contrast it with a 10 month old baby who had two febrile fits in the space of two days, the parent s were sensible, calm and a pleasure to deal with. The baby was fine by the time we got there and the parents were more than happy to go to the local hospital for a check-up. The calmness of parents tends to keep the child calm – and a calm child makes for a happy ambulance person.

37 thoughts on “Parents”

  1. She would be a menace on the roads anyway. Imagine if the child sneezed while she was driving and she then went at full tilt to the nearest hospital causing loads of accidents on the way.

  2. I rcently had to call an ambulance to my 4 week old son. He had turned blue around the mouth. By the time the ambulance arrived he had returned to normal colour but was still lethargic and breathing heavily, so the paramedics took him to A & E.The paramedics were wonderful- even at 2.00am they were calm, caring (i had managed to stay calm untill they arrived then began to shake- i think it was the relief of having someone who knew what they were doing there) and presssional. I knew my baby was in safe hands and they cared for him well. As the emergency was over we even managed to chat on the way to hospital (once they had staified themselves that immediate danger had passed) and discussed Mr Reynolds musings.

    The point of this post is to take my hat off to all of you paramedics. From your lifsaving skills, to your people skills, to how on earth you do such an important job in the back of that moving vehicle. Thanks folks- from a greatful customer. One that hopes never to use your service again though!

  3. Car on the driveway or otherwise, it's probably a good thing that this woman wasn't attempting to drive her daughter to hospital…

  4. i think that woman could do with some education on the problem her kids has. i would not of like to be on the road if she was driving in that condition

  5. it can happen the other way around the kids run around like a headless chicken and the parents who have the problem are getting wound up. i have that on some duties.What i like is all next of kin to be level headed, but it never happens all the time.

  6. Well done, I wanted to slap the mum and I've only read about her! How people in this kind of job can keep their hands off annoying members of the public sometimes never ceases to amaze me…. :o)

  7. Stupid woman. I suppose it made her feel important. I would really like to write silly b***dy cow but I suppose it would be judgemental.

  8. on a slightly different thread, but still about people not flapping, I was third manning in bristol one night, when we had to take a ptn into the Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI) one saturday night. The staff aske us to walk the ptn down to minors as the appeared little wrong with him, when we got there we were meet by the sight of two women covered head to toe in clarret, great we thourght its all kicking off. It turned out that whilst they had been in a fight and were bleeding a bit the phoned one of the boyfriends and got him to drive them doen to the BRI (a good 20 mins from where the were), as they didn't want to cause any hassel.For once someone used some common sense and didn't start flapping at the sight of blood. It turned out that they both had several minor cuts to their scalps!

  9. She wasn't listening, what does make people like that stop and listen? Sounds like you kept your cool admirably, sometimes it's really hard to do so isn't it?

  10. Hey everyone, Tom I completely understand where your coming from. Not so long ago I treated a Moto Cross rider with the classic signs, symptons and mechanism of injury for a Back injury, things went well. Patient was co-oporative and understood what was happening and it looked like it was going to be a pretty straight forward job. That is until the patients father arrived on scene. The One thing you must understand is that the parents of moto-cross riders have this annoying automatic reflex to pick up and dust of there children. Which of course isnt good, if the rider in question cant feel anything below his waiste and is complaining of searing back pain. I then contrasted that job to another job I went to a few weeks later. Pretty simple case of Pedestrian Vs Car. The patient was considerably younger and both he and the parents stayed remarkably calm. Now if you had asked me which case was more seriouse, I would say the Pedestrian Vs Car and yet the parents were so much calmer. Just goes to show.

  11. Over-sensitive parents like that really do annoy me. OK, so the condition could potentially be serious, but in this case it sounds like it was just a trickle. I'm an HCA with a Hospice At Home team, and the other night we got called out to a lady's house because she'd had a more-or-less constant nosebleed all day. Due to her condition, we got her to hospital pretty quickly, but she and her family stayed really calm and were a pleasure to deal with. I'm not sure how I'd have coped with this kid's mum though!

  12. Parents of BMX riders are just as bad as Moto X parents.Why would you want to get your child to cycle round a BMX track after the race is finished when they have a query fractured wrist, (visible deformity shaped like a dinner fork, bruising etc etc etc). I had to refuse them permission to go on the track, turned out to be fractured).

  13. horse riding parents are the same too. we had injury spooky like yours Elliott, treated it and the parents said they would take her down to A&E as our truck was off site. next team race she was there lacking sling. we pointed it out to the orginizer who got on the pa system and pointed out to everyone the if x riding group used a injuried rider in the team event all member of the group would be disqualifed from all the days events. the parent of all the other group members did the rest for us.

  14. I'd love my mum to read this. With 7 kids and… I've lost count of the grandkids, she's seen a lot of injuries in her time! (Especially with a son with Epidermolysis Bullosa and a habit of falling through glass doors and such like) Kids are always throwing themselves around and bleeding.One time my nephew fell down some concrete steps onto his face. She took him inside and there was so much blood everywhere that she didn't even know what the damage was, it was all over the kitchen floor and everything. Turned out to be nothing major and “Nanny” always treats nose bleeds with an ice lolly of their choice, which makes the kids happy.

    They don't make parents like they used to do they?

  15. >They don't make parents like they used to do they?Course they don't!

    I still maintain that the (older) mothers / grandmothers make great first aiders, especially when dealing with 'injuries' (as opposed to arrests, etc). They've probably seen quite a lot, and have usually got sufficient wits about them!



  16. Its strange how it seems to follow a similar pattern, and its usually the parents of the very sick child that seem level headed and the ones that have scraped their knee that can't seem to cope! Even the father of a baby in Cardiac Arrest managed to keep calm and help us (ultimately helping us and the hospital to save his sons life) yet when Tommy cut his finger, you would have thought that his head was about to fall off.

  17. My mum's one was always “put Savlon on it”. Bumps, bruises, grazed knees, you name it, just put Savlon on it, make it all better. My sister and I used to joke that if we crawled in with a broken leg mum would put Savlon on it.When I got a bit older I lost faith in the almighty power of Savlon for anything that wasn't likely to be helped by an antiseptic cream – then I realised that as well as having a placebo effect, it was an effective way of seeing how injured we were. If we were content to rub cream right into the skin all over the affected area, then it was really unlikely that we were seriously hurt.

    Big Dangerous Plasters were another one… *reminisces*

  18. Not mine! When my brother was 11 he fell off his bike head over heels and was complaining that his arm hurt. I was 7 at the time and could tell there was something wrong because it was swollen, but my mum got him up the next morning and sent him on his school trip (to Thorpe Park!!). When he got back it was even more swollen, so she finally decided to take him to A&E, where they said it was definitely fractured and he had to have an operation! I still like guilt-tripping her for that.Oh yes, and then there's the time I got stung by a wasp and had anaphylaxis and she just said to have a cold shower (4 times…) until my dad made her phone NHS Direct who said to phone 999 immediately. Now I have an Epipen she takes the whole thing a little more seriously, but not much.


  19. When my son was in the neo-natal unit I saw a number of parents go completely off the deep-end over any number of minor changes to their child's condition…. To avoid this around my son, I told my wife, parents and all other visitors that you only ever had to worry if you saw a doctor or nurse running….as what may seem to be a life or death situation is in fact an everyday occurrence to somebody who works in medicine. I would imagine the same goes for EMTs / Paramedics?

  20. Peer pressure is a wonderful thing…..I've refused to let a medical team work a race track in the middle of a race day because in between races riders were riding the track without helmets, protective gear (one idiot riding in shorts, no gear, no t-shirt and no shoes!) and being obnoxious/rude/aggresive when reminded to do so.

    It all kicked off and the troublemakers were soon made suitably unpopular. The race director fully supported my point of view.

  21. It's one of my stock phrases – “Do I look worried? No. That means it isn't serious. If it were serious I'd be looking worried and you'd be laying on the trolley”.Normally makes people feel better.

  22. Ah Savlon, remember it well! Made by ICI who my Dad worked for. Remember some nasty kid saying “run to mummy and she'll put toothpaste on it” when I fell over.Savlon is good stuff, my Dad ( a high level scientist) was once trying to light a primus stove, it didn't light quickly enough so he POURED PETROL on it. ??!! a flash of flame shot up my Mum's arm, she rolled over and over to put out fire then got Savlon and spread a thick layer all over her arm. Not even a blister. I was quite young and was crying because I was frightenend. My Dad told me off for crying saying it wasn't me who got burned. He was lovely really!

    Good stuff. What about TCP? Remember that? Bi-so-dol? Aaah the old remedies!

  23. Savlon?!?You were lucky!

    Mine was an advocate of some ghastly stuff called “Glicken's Salve” which had to be melted in boiling water before application….

  24. I think education is important as someone else has said. I mentioned in a previous post my little boy (12 months) had a febrile fit, but because I had read about them in 'blood, sweat, and tea' and paid attention to what our GP was saying, we remained pretty calm (despite being quite worried). The paramedics talked us into taking him to hospital and he had to stay ovrenight, but he is fine.I have spent the last two days at an emergency aid course (partly because I want to be prepared next time). The trainer was a paramedic from Essex who was very funny, interesting and knowledgeable. I told him he should read your blog!

  25. Another one that I use a lot is if it was serious we wouldn't be sitting here chatting about it would we. If I think its bad then we would have left five minutes ago and be driving very fast at the moment. That usually works I must say

  26. I think you've made a good point bumpylady about people starting to panic once the professionals arrive to take over. Whilst I can appreciate that panicking relatives are a complete nightmare for ambulance crews, to joe public the event we're witnessing may be very scary for us and something we've not seen before – and if the patient is your child then the fear is 1000 fold. I've called an ambulance twice in my life (never for my child) and was very calm and in control until they arrived. Once I was no longer needed I fell to pieces.For someone who would only call an ambulance when genuinely needed, it's a terrifying experience and maybe you could bear that in mind when judging panicking parents. The call might be mundane to you, but to that parent someone far more precious than themselves is injured / unwell and NOTHING is more important to them.

  27. I'm new to this, found this blog having just read B,S & T which was great.Went last month to an asthmatic 11 yr old, in a pretty distressed state. Mum had met me at the door but then sat herself on the sofa while her daughter was in an armchair next to it. And the mother tutted and made me feel guilty about asking questions because I was interrupting her watching 'Big Brother'

    The mind boggles

  28. Again, really liked the book.Quite an eye opener for me. I'm Fire Service and act as a Co-Responder for HAS and in some respects would recommend the book as a useful training tool !!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *