Monday, 29 November 2010

The misery of children

And I don't mean in the sense that they are miserable... I've had a month of heavy exposure to the distress that manifests when children are involved in serious accidents or are very ill. Mothers especially, become either muted and strangely calm or are utterly distraught and inconsolable.

For example, a mum who listened carefully to the instructions being given to her while her 2 year-old screamed in agony after hot tea was accidentally spilled onto her. 'Yes, I tried to put a wet towel on her but she won't let me touch her.' The child is moaning in between cries and clearly not in good shape. Mum wants to do something to ease her pain but the little girl thinks whatever mummy is about to put on her will probably make her feel even more pain; she doesn't want to be touched and she doesn't want anything else on her skin. Mum feels powerless but her child's skin is dying every second that she paused to think about it. It's heart-breaking stuff.

And there are other behaviours, contrary to those that illuminate parental protective instincts. Like the parents of an epileptic child who fitted for twenty minutes until an ambulance was finally called. The parents are immigrants and do not speak English; they come from a country where healthcare is neither free nor freely available but it doesn't explain their bizarre impulse to film their child having a seizure so that they could show the ambulance crew when they arrived.

Children with serious medical problems and who have terrible accidents are all at the mercy of their parents. In the time between the occurrence and the arrival of professional help, the difference between life and death, surviving intact or with life-long scars - the length of time in which there is pain - a parent can respond appropriately and accordingly or, notwithstanding excuses for ignorance and disabilities, can leave their baby to suffer or die. How many of them would throw their hands in the air and wail 'what took you so long?'

Mum, dad... I don't care where you come from - learn how to save your own children.

Be safe.


Fee said...

Agreed! I was always grateful to have had basic first aid training before I had my kids. Some of my neighbours' kids also had cause to be grateful.

Anonymous said...

About the filming .... my son suddenly started having seizures, which eventually turned out to be due to a brain tumour that killed him, aged 13. The first few seizures were only witnessed by us, we called an ambulance in panic but the seizures were generally over by the time a doctor or nurse saw him. It was hard to describe exactly and the initial feeling from the hospital was that it was panic attacks. After a week or so we filmed an attack to show the doctors what it was like. Possibly your people were unsure of being able to explain properly, maybe they had previous experience. Sarah

Anonymous said...

A very moving post. I sincerely believe that first aid training should be compulsory in schools, so that they all grow up equipped with the skills to save someones life should that need ever arise. I also believe that first aid skills should be mandatory for expectant parents, so alongside the deep breathing and birth techniques and the myriad health checks and scans they are taught some basic skills such as what to do if the child stops breathing, or chokes, or is scalded or has a seizure or whatever.
keep up the good work on the blog

Xf said...


True, this could certainly have been the case. Sorry to hear of your experience.

Anonymous said...

I agree that first aid should be taught in schools. It does stay with you, I can say from personal experiance- I was able to help someone at work. There was something in the deep dark recesses of my brian which told me what to do! I didn't save a life, but I was able to prevent someone fitting from injuring themself whilst the ambulance was on it's way. Small, I know, but I did feel good when the paramedic said I had done all the right things!
You must get that feeling all the time. Maybe it's why you do what you do?


Anonymous said...

Hi Stuart
I have not left a comment before but have followed your blog for quite a while. I am a Transport Attendant for St John Ambulance - NHS nearest equivalent of an Emergency Care Attendant I suppose.

I have found your blog most instructive and educational and it has helped to advance my knowledge. I don't suppose I can claim it as CPD though!

In light of your comments I thought I would mention The St John Ambulance "The Difference" campaign where we are trying to encourage the public to take a first aid course. There is much useful info available on YouTube under St John Ambulance including some very effective videos and free downloads including a first aid App for the iPhone.

Enough of the publicity - it seemed a good moment to mention it! Keep up the good work, your blog is great.


Mjolinir said...

Re the 'filming' - that seems a good idea if parents can't speak enough English to accurately describe what had happened.

@Mike - links for info on 'The Difference', and the 'Popcorn' advert-