Recently, BC Ambulance Service (BCAS) paramedics responded to a 9-1-1 call from a four-year-old in New Westminster; the call ended well for the patient, who is the four-year-old's mother.
A BCAS emergency medical dispatcher spoke to the child while paramedics were en route to the call.
BCAS recommends that you speak with your children, in a calm, reassuring manner, about different kinds of emergency situations. Through some simple questions and role playing, you will build confidence in your children that they will be able to handle an emergency, if one should arise. It's a good idea to revisit this topic with your children every year. You can add depth and detail as they grow and mature.
WHAT IS 9-1-1?
. 9-1-1 is a number to call for help when someone is in danger or not safe. Always use "nine-one-one" - never refer to the number as "nine-eleven." In the uncertainty of an emergency, a child may look at a phone keypad for the number "11."
. 9-1-1 is a safe number to call; children can trust the person who answers their 91-1 call.
. If you live in an area that does not have 9-1-1 service, be sure to help your children learn your local emergency number. Make sure it is clearly visible near your home phone.
. It's a good idea to point out ambulance, fire and police personnel to your children when you see them in your community. Example: "There's an ambulance; paramedics work in that ambulance. If you call 9-1-1 because someone is very sick or hurt, they will come to help you."
WHEN SHOULD YOU CALL 9-1-1?
. You should call only when you need help from ambulance, firefighters or police.
. Never call 9-1-1 as a joke or a game - making frivolous calls to 9-1-1 is a crime.
. If you are calling from home, it's better to call from a landline phone rather than a cellphone.
. Tell your children that they must be in a safe place before they call 9-1-1. If there is a fire in your home, go outside and call 9-1-1 or go to a neighbour's house.
WHAT IS AN EMERGENCY?
. It's a good idea to help your children understand what an emergency is.
. Questions are a good way to convey this information: "What would you do if a fire started in our home?" "What would you do if someone faints?"
. Role playing is a great way to be sure your children understand the concept of an emergency.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU CALL 9-1-1?
. When you call 9-1-1, a dispatcher will ask you if you need police, fire or ambulance.
. The emergency medical dispatcher for ambulance will ask you what the emergency is and where you are.
. Be sure to tell the emergency medical dispatcher the address of your home (or where you are), your apartment number (if appropriate) and your phone number.
. While you are talking to the emergency medical dispatcher, another dispatcher is sending an ambulance and paramedics to your location to help with the emergency.
. It's important that children listen to the emergency medical dispatcher and follow his or her directions.
. The emergency medical dispatcher will continue to talk with you until the paramedics arrive.
. Do not hang up the phone until paramedics arrive.
. Role play with your children to build their confidence.
. Ask them when they should call 9-1-1.
. Ask them to point out emergency workers in your community.