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The call I never wanted to take

‘Hello? How can I help you today?’ I said, in my routine ‘nurse-over-the-phone’ voice.

‘Help me! My baby is blue on the mouth and on his hands and his feet! He vomited and he stopped breathing! My dad is driving us to the hospital. Help us!’

I paused for a few seconds. Totally in shock with what I was hearing.

‘F—–!’ I screamed inside, ‘This is not a joke! Everyone is screaming on the other end of the phone. Um… What do I do?’

I regrouped.

So much was going through my head, ‘How long had this baby not been breathing?’ … ‘How can I get this baby to breathe!!???!’… ‘Please God, get this baby to breathe!’

‘Your baby has vomit in his mouth and his lips, hands and feet are blue?’

‘Yes!’ the voice on the other end cried.

So much was going through my head, ‘How long had this baby not been breathing?’ … ‘They’re driving with the baby in their arms, should I tell them to pull over first?’… ‘How can I get their address quickly to send an ambulance out to them when they’re driving and probably don’t even know what road they are on?’… ‘They told me the hospital they are going to- it’s all busy, major roads near that one, can they stop safely anyhow?’… ‘How can I get this baby to breathe!!???!’… ‘Please God, get this baby to breathe!’

And then my training kicked in.

‘I’ve done this!’ I thought to myself.

‘Ok, turn your baby onto his side and get the vomit out of his mouth.’ I stated with restraint also wanting to scream down the phone in panic.

‘Okay, we are turning him on his side…

‘We got the vomit out!’ she said, and then, ‘I THINK HE’S BREATHING!’

‘He’s breathing?’ I almost exclaimed with so much relief I almost started crying right there and then. ‘What color are his lips?’

‘His lips?’

‘Yes! What colour are they? Is he definitely breathing?’ I still hadn’t heard a cry or any noise that would indicate a child was in there somewhere.

‘They are almost pink again. He is getting his color again!’

All the adults in the car settled down and almost started applauding. Heck! Even I almost started applauding!

‘Ok, lift your baby up so he can expand his lungs.’ I said more calmly. ‘Now, take a deep breath. You did really well!’

I took a deep breath.

‘Now, pull over. I’m going to get an ambulance to meet you.’


Afterwards…

I never thought that being a phone triage nurse could have it’s crazy days. To be honest, I thought I was going to be dishing out symptom management education to concerned parents. Period.

I finished that call and I cried.

Part of me was sad that I was leaving the busy-ness of the Emergency clinical environment but after a week of having two patients call who were having an allergic reaction and needed coaching on giving their EpiPen, I’m realising that I am more than just a nurse at the other end of the line dishing out advice here and there.

I finished that call and I cried.

I cried because it was stressful.

I cried because I felt so useless at the time.

I cried because the whole experience felt so… traumatic.

And then my husband, my sounding board, asked, ‘What did you tell them to do?’

I told him the short 2-minute conversation and he responded, ‘So, because they called you, you were able to save him?’

Maybe.

Brooke Batchelor
administrator
Brooke Batchelor is a Paediatric Registered Nurse, qualified Primary Teacher and children’s advocate. She founded ‘The Paediatric Nurse’ website in 2015 before developing it into an online continuing professional development website for Paediatric Nurses in August 2018. She is passionate about giving children a voice in healthcare and works tirelessly towards encouraging others to further develop their child and family centred care approaches. Brooke has recently joined the Advisory Board for the Standish Foundation – a charitable organisation that promotes child & family centred care and empowers healthcare professionals through the provision of funding & resources. Previously, Brooke also sat on the Board of Directors for the Association for the Well-being of Children in Healthcare, Australia and held the Vice President position in 2017. Brooke has a keen interest in holistic healthcare and the use of complementary therapies and looks forward to a healthcare system that integrates these various modalities. As a result, Brooke has been studying towards her Yoga Teacher Certification and has almost completed a Diploma in Aromatherapy too. In addition to her business, The Paediatric Nurse, Brooke has also founded an essential oils business, Aroma Brooke, and is often found educating families on the safe and effective use of essential oils. When Brooke is not nursing, hosting webinars or teaching others about essential oils, she is spending quality time with her husband and two daughters or enjoying a yoga session with some essential oils & meditation thrown in.

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