Opinion || Paramedics are good people for a bad day

Over recent weeks I have been working with some paramedics, and last Friday I had a meeting with one group.

Little did I know that later on that night, I would get to see in action just what a paramedic does, up close and personal. 

My son is 10 years young and on Friday night, he was being silly and whacked his head on the rather solid entertainment unit. I felt the hairs on the back of my neck raise up as the crack seemed to reverberate around the room.

The sound of my son’s head connecting with the wood of the unit was eerily followed by a moment, a breath maybe, of silence before his scream rent the air. 

By the time I’d whipped my head around to see what had happened, he had crumpled to the floor, on his knees with his head in his hands and his forehead on the rug. Screaming.

It felt like slow motion as I called out for my husband, who was in another room, for help, and raced to our son’s side.

I knelt to touch him, to see if he was okay and my hand came away slick with blood.

I looked up as my husband came in and I swallowed my panic and said as calmly as I could, “he’s bleeding, quick, he’s bleeding.” 

My husband got him up and calmed him, he applied pressure to the wound with his hand and said over our son’s head, “Call an ambulance”. 

Do you think I could find my phone?! Of course not! 

After a frantic search, I located it and called 000. The emergency responder who picked up the call told me to get a clean towel and fold it into a pad (d’oh, right? First aid 101 right there, and yet… I had been flapping about trying to find my other shoe).

When I told her my husband was emergency response trained, she was happy to end the call so we could tend to our son and await the ambulance. 

Perfect moment to lose my purse. 

After a manic search, I managed to find it under some junk mail on the kitchen counter.

I successfully put on matching shoes (go me!) and I hurtled out the front door to await the ambulance with my husband, daughter and son (who had completely stopped crying by the way, despite the fact that the bleeding hadn’t stopped). 

The paramedics arrived in under five minutes. I could not believe it - that is incredible response time!

David and Andrew were just what we all needed – they were a total calming influence as we bit our nails watching while Andrew cleaned the wound and we awaited the verdict.

They had our son laughing in no time and let us know that they wanted to take him in to get checked out.

David put the flashing lights on for our three-year-old daughter, who was clutching her daddy in hysterics on the driveway because her big brother and Mum were being taken away to hospital, and on the way in, both David and Andrew kept up the banter, asking questions to check my son’s cognitive response hidden in conversation about sport, movies and superheroes.

It wasn’t until we’d arrived, done the paperwork and gone out to the waiting room that I realised that my son had no shoes on and I remembered my daughter had just finished applying her play makeup to my eyelids (and eyebrows) in bright blue, pink and orange, when all the chaos descended! 

When the two paramedics returned to Emergency with another patient, 2.5 hours into our four-hour wait, Andrew even popped over and had a chat to my son, continuing their earlier discussion about superheroes. 

I have always considered our emergency responders to be overworked, under-resourced and underpaid, but this experience has highlighted to me what can’t easily be written into a resume – they forge a connection, no matter how fleeting, with people having one of the worst days of their lives, with a dedication to making it just a little bit easier to handle.

It’s more than frontline emergency care – our paramedics don’t just treat wounds, they treat people.

Emergency responders ... forge a connection, no matter how fleeting, with people having one of the worst days of their lives, with a dedication to making it just a little bit easier to handle.

And for that, I thank you all. 

Oh and my son is now fine - all that chaos over one stitch! 

Zoë Wundenberg is a careers writer and coach at impressability.com.au