Something reminded me today about some of the instances in my life that I was in the right place at the right time to be of assistance to someone in an emergency.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that I was a Midwife and trained in first aid, CPR, and emergencies. The very first time I was called to help someone in an emergency, was right in my own backyard – literally: One day when Marty was a baby, I was in our kitchen giving him his lunch while he sat in his highchair. My house was full of children (all under the age of 11), as usual that summer day – my other 4 children and some of their friends. You can imagine that it was far from quiet in our house as kids were in every room playing dress-up, or Lego, or hide-and-seek, or who knows what. Suddenly, I got that strange feeling that something was wrong. I stopped to listen through the noisy chaos inside the house, but had to go outside to hear. I seemed to be just drawn to do this even though I didn’t know why – I think that my instincts just kicked in (they had served me well so far in this mothering journey). What I saw has burned into my memory for life: walking around the waterfront corner of the little red cottage beside our property was my neighbour carrying her limp, unconscious, wet baby crying for help! It seems that nobody was home at the place nearest their house (which is unusual since they are always home) when she went there for help. I yelled to one of my kids to watch Marty and I ran towards her. My neighbour was crying as she tried to explain that her toddler had fallen in the river and drowned and that she hadn’t known where he had wandered off to and that she looked desperately for him until she found him floating face down in the Rideau River. Right on the spot, I assessed the baby in 3 seconds flat as it was obvious that he wasn’t breathing. So I took him and cleared his mouth of seaweed then did something like the Heimlich Maneuver to force any water out of his airway, I hoped. By then, my kids had heard the screams of the baby’s mother and were on the back porch just staring. As I walked towards my house, with the child in my arms and his mother following behind me, I yelled to call 911. One of my children did call 911 while I sat the dripping wet Mom on my kitchen floor with her baby in her arms. The little lad was now breathing on his own. I covered them both with a blanket and went to fetch my Midwifery oxygen tank. Wasn’t that a stroke of luck that the house this lady ended up at belonged to a midwife with her own oxygen? I remember nervously, albeit full of focus, trying to assemble the regulator on the tank (which I always disconnected in between births) and setting the appropriate flow for a toddler, then putting the mask on him. We waited for what seemed like an eternity for the ambulance – it was actually 20 minutes. My wonderful, helpful older children and their friends took it upon themselves, without any instruction from me, to station themselves at all the corners into our property from the main road to help direct the ambulance in unfamiliar territory. When emergency crews arrived, they agreed that the unconscious child was stabilized and asked where on earth did I get an oxygen tank! Not their usual find! They left with my 02 face mask still on the patient and replaced it with a new unopened one. I contemplated what might have happened IF that lady’s closest neighbour (an elderly couple) had been home and might not have known what to do (they certainly wouldn’t have had their own oxygen tank!). Later that day, the Children’s Hospital called me to enquire whether I had given CPR – I responded with what I had done with no CPR and they were quite relieved as blowing air into the patient would have moved any particulate further down the airway causing more damage than not doing CPR. She also said that babies still have this ‘dive reflex’ which prevents them from inhaling water. Finally, she thanked me. My wee neighbour Aaron seemed to have no ill effects from his traumatic experience of almost drowning.
Another time, when my Dad was visiting, we were driving back home from shopping. I happened to notice that our neighbour’s dogs didn’t bark ferociously at us like they always did when we drove by. After I got the kids inside with Grampa, I wandered over to the neighbours to check things out because I was just uneasy about those dogs. As I approached, it was apparent that something was dreadfully wrong. Both dogs were always tied out along an overhead wire at opposite ends so they didn’t get tangled yet could see each other and enjoy the outdoors while their owners are at work all day in the city. This day, somehow one of the dogs got further on the wire and entangled the smaller dog who then couldn’t retreat back to her dog house. I don’t know how long that poor pup was out in the hot sun but by the time I got there, she was unconscious and barely breathing. Now I’m not a Veterinarian but common sense told me to get that dog out of the hot sun and cool her down! I drenched the poor dog with water from the owners hose first. Amazingly, the other dog who is known to be assertive just left me do my job and didn’t interfere or even bark. Then I went home for my van as I remembered that there was an Animal Hospital up the road in a nearby town. I hosed her down again before I loaded her up – and drove her to that Vet. Of course, they knew what to do and put the unconscious dog in an alcohol bath to reduce her core body temperature. I told them whose dog it was but I didn’t know where these people worked. As fate would have it, THIS was their Veterinarian and they knew exactly how to contact the owners! The owners were forever grateful as their dogs were their ‘kids’ – I received a lovely gift basket from them too.
One other time, I was grocery shopping at a local store with my husband and youngest baby. While adding stuff to our cart and minding our own business, I heard this woman scream “my baby! my baby!” from the next aisle over. Instinctively, I ran over to hear her scream that her baby had stopped breathing…….she mumbled that the pacifier was missing…… she said she didn’t know if her baby was choking. The child seemed to be having a mild seizure. The baby was belted into a walking ‘umbroller’ stroller so I jumped into action since everyone was just standing there staring. I untied the baby and right away felt that she was very hot. I checked inside her mouth for any choking hazard then did the Heimlich Maneuver anyway and she seemed to be breathing. I laid her on the cold tile floor as the owner said she’d called 911. I tried to undo the baby’s sweater to cool her down and asked the owner to get a clean, cold, wet cloth. I dabbed it over the infant’s head, arms, etc then the ambulance got there. Apparently, the baby did have a febrile seizure from an extremely high body temperature – in fact, they had recently been at the local hospital because of a burn the baby suffered. The paramedics commended me for my actions especially putting the child on the cold tile floor…… After they left for the hospital, I continued shopping, just glad that I was in the right place at the right time again.
Well that’s it for now I guess. Just some stories of a day in the life of Grammom.