When my son was only 9 months old, I was carrying him in my arms and walking down the stairs to our basement. I slipped on something that was sitting on our wood stairs and I fell, dropping my son and he rolled all the way down the stairs and landed on our concrete basement floor, screaming. I can remember this moment vividly to this day. I had taught many first aid classes in the past. I knew how to call 911. I knew what to say to the dispatcher. But when its someone you know and/or love, panic can set in and you may just have a hard time making the call for help correctly. This is why it is important to teach your children how to call 911.
Teaching your child to call 911
It is very important that you the parent know how to call 911, as well as your children. What happens if your child was at home alone or with another person and they needed help from the police, an ambulance, the fire department or for an emergency or a poisoning, would they know how to call 911?
Step by step instruction:
Here is a step by step sequence on what you should do. This has been taken directly from our online Babysitters Course curriculum. When we speak about calling 911, we may refer to calling 911/EMS. EMS is referred to as: Emergency, Medical Service. Which includes, police, fire, ambulance and poison control.
- You simply pick up the telephone, it can be a home phone or a cell phone and you dial 9-1-1. If you are on a cell phone you can also dial 9-1-1. There are ‘Emergency’ buttons on many cell phones that you can use to call 911/EMS without actually dialing 9-1-1. Some phones may look different, so make sure you are familiar with where the emergency button is on the cell phone you are using. Verizon has made a simulator on how to make a 911 call from many different devices, using an ’emergency’ button. Click here and choose your device and go over this with your child.
- When you call a dispatcher will pick up the phone and ask you what your emergency is? If you know what service you need then immediately tell the dispatcher, the dispatcher will also decide on who can help you depending on the severity of the emergency.
If you are at home alone or babysitting and an emergency happens then you need to call 911 first if you feel the emergency requires the attention of a police officer, the fire department, or an ambulance. If you do not know, but you feel that the emergency is very serious, call 911 and the dispatcher will let you know who you may need.
- The EMS dispatcher is going to need the following information. The location of the emergency, the exact house number and street and the name of the city or the town. If it is an apartment or townhouse, they will also need to know the apartment number or unit number. You may want to give cross streets, landmarks or other helpful information to help EMS to get to you as quickly as possible. If possible, if you are in a hard to find location, have someone go out and meet the ambulance and wave them down.
- The EMS dispatcher needs to know the telephone number that you are calling from. Why? In case they get disconnected from you and they need to call you back, or if they have a hard time locating where you are they also may need to call you back.
- You will need to tell the EMS dispatcher what happened. Tell them in your own words. You will need to tell them how many people need care.
- You will need to tell the EMS dispatcher how the injured person is doing, or how the emergency is coming along. If its an injured person you will need to say whether they are awake or unconscious, whether the person is breathing or not, and if they have a pulse. You will also need to tell the approximate age of the person and any other helpful information.
It is important not to hang up the phone until the dispatcher says it is time to do so.
When should you call 911 (EMS)?
- If you feel very ill or you feel like something bad is happening to your body or someone else’s body
- If you or someone you are with is having trouble breathing or has choked on something
- If you or someone you are with is bleeding a lot
- If you or someone you are with is vomiting or peeing blood
- If you or someone you are with has swallowed, touched or breathed in something you believe or know to be poisonous
- If you or someone you are with is having convulsions or a seizure
- If you or someone you are with has a severe headache and or slurred speech
- If you or someone you are with has a head, back or neck injury
Please note that if you do call 911 and what you felt was an emergency, did not end up being an emergency in the end result, you will not be in trouble. It is better to be safe than sorry. The dispatcher may just talk with you on the call and help you to understand when is a more appropriate time to call another time if you feel you need to call 911. However, DO NOT call 911 if you do not have an emergency. You can get into trouble by calling 911 when you do not need to. If you call 911 and this is not an emergency then you are using the time of the valuable dispatchers when they could be helping another person on a true emergency 911 call.
Go over these instructions with your child and practice how to call 911
It is very important that you go over these details with your child. You may feel that your child knows how to call 911, but its not something you do everyday where they can practice it. With this said, there is a great app called DialSafe Pro, that helps kids to learn to dial 911 using an app.
The Government of Canada has a really great site on using traditional and non traditional options when calling 911. you can view the site here.
Be safe everyone,