Calling Triple Zero
I don’t drive. I’ve had my Learner’s for over 5 years, I have anxiety around being in cars, even as a passenger, I am working on it, but at the moment I can’t drive.
People have asked me, but what if there’s an emergency? What if the kids need to go to hospital? Which has always struck me as being obvious – I call an ambulance. If it’s not an emergency I’ve called Health Direct, or I’ve taken them to a medical centre, but if it’s an emergency, I’ll triple zero.
The prompting for this reflection was on the other week, while home alone with both the kids, I was preparing the bath for them and my 4 year old decided to step out of the bath, he put his foot on the edge of the bath, slipped, whacked his head on the bathroom sink on the way down. He screamed in pain and I scooped him up, his face was covered in blood and blood was pouring out of a gash on his forehead. I picked his sister up on my other hip and ran the down stairs. I ripped my top off and held it against the cut to try to stop the bleeding and I grabbed my phone and dialled triple zero.
I knew it was going to take a while, I would need to tell them the service I’m calling for, my state, area, suburb, street address, phone number and they’ll ask these things twice to be sure BEFORE we start to get any medical advice and at least 10-15 minutes from the time I pick up the phone until I get an ambulance here. My split second decision was I want that process started as soon as possible, because if things go badly I didn’t want my son to have to wait until it was critical to make that call. As it happened the bleeding had slowed considerably by the time the Ambulance arrived. They still took us up to hospital because he’d had a bad bump, the cut needed to be glued up and he needed to be observed for a few hours before we could take him home.
How do I know how a triple 0 call works? This isn’t the first time I’ve called triple zero for my son. When he was 11 days old he stopped breathing in his bassinet, I found him, screamed, passed him to his father so I could call triple 0, it was such a painful process when I just wanted to scream “HE’S NOT BREATHING !!! COME NOW” but they have a procedure, which they need to follow and it just takes a couple of minutes but in an emergency it feels like forever. My partner panicked, he picked up our newborn and ran out the front door. We lived 3 km from a hospital so he decided we’d be better off driving it. Jasper started moving his fingers in the car on the way, he was fine, he is fine, and it all worked out fine. BUT we were told very firmly by the hospital staff that we made the wrong choice. Don’t drive to hospital. Wait for the ambulance. Stay at home. Let them come to you. We were incredibly lucky.
What if it’s not REALLY an emergency? Sometimes I feel like we’re conditioned to not want to be seen as being hysterical or dramatic, but when it comes to our children – who cares? On another occasion when Jasper was two years old I was getting him yoghurt, I handed him a teaspoon, he turned around and poked it into the front vent of a
very old oven. Did you know that electric ovens have live wires in them? I didn’t. We found that out. Blue sparks flew everywhere. Jasper was screaming and holding his arm, I thought about it for a moment, but I didn’t know what to look for if he’d been shocked so I just called. By the time the paramedics arrived he was completely fine, they looked him over and he was totally okay. The metal spoon had partly melted but Jasper didn’t even have a burn on him. I was embarrassed and apologised and they told me when kids are involved they’d rather it be a false alarm than someone not call when they needed to.
So, if you’re worried about “what if” there is an emergency, what if you need to take the kids to hospital? You can call an ambulance on triple zero. If you aren’t sure, you can also call Health Direct on 1800 022 222 to speak to a registered nurse, and they can advise you whether or not you need to call an ambulance, go to hospital or see a doctor, or they can give you general advice over the phone.
Here is a list of other Support Services numbers.
Do you have a plan for what to do in an emergency – have you discussed it with your partner/family/children?