For the little ones

Last updated on March 5th, 2018 at 08:13 am

A shout out on Mother’s Day to those who speak for the little ones…who Twitter and Blogger and help a blind world see, so that “unsafe” and “unfair” might one day be unreal

A shout out on Mother’s Day to those who stand for the little ones…who draw swords on the battlefields and demand justice – for the invisible child as well as the one we see everyday but can just as easily fail to protect

A shout out on Mother’s Day for all those who hold the little ones…who breathe life where it ebbs, who teach knowledge is strength, who kiss away the boo-boos, and who will always check under the bed and chase away the monsters

To all of you we owe our thanks …together we can create an amazing world, but if not for the little ones…who are we doing it for???

Because she inspired me

Last updated on August 30th, 2015 at 06:25 pm

My little sister Suzanne and I were always very different…right from childhood. She looked like my mother, blonde and very pale – she always hid from the sun. I was brunette and tanned easily, just like my dad. Her hair was kinky curly (she hated it), while mine was straight. She lived in a world of her own creation and got into trouble at school and at home. I was the “good child” with straight A’s who rarely was cause for concern. And boy we hated each other…

According to Suzanne, life came easy to me…anything I wanted I would always get, while she would struggle so hard, “felt stupid” and would always come up short. Her greatest joy was wreaking havoc on my “perfect little world”. So I separated myself as far away from her as I could – physically, emotionally – so many of the choices I made were to distance myself and “not be like her” in any way I could.

Suzanne had a very difficult time growing up – and though I was part of it – I know there was quite a bit I did not really see until years later. She struggled with drugs and attempted suicide when she was still a teenager, and depression for a number of years after that, apparently always hating herself more than she hated me.

And just when we all thought she didn’t have anything left to give – Suzanne found a new path to follow. To our amazement she chose EMS – to save a life instead of taking her own- she wanted to make a difference. And not only did this “little girl” work as one of the EMS crews that helped secure the scene after the bombing at the Atlanta Olympics, but this same girl who thought she was “stupid” invented the device I blogged about earlier that will one day make it safe for all little kids to ride on ambulances. (…I read this and remember why we teach children that “stupid” is a bad word)

Several years ago Suzanne had to quit EMS. Every day since then, like many of us she struggles with questions of am I good enough…smart enough…am I deserving…can I still make a difference… and every day no matter what anyone tells her, I don’t know if she believes it.

I grew up not wanting to be like her…but I would be half the person I am today without her. So much of what I am, what I have and what I do that I am proud of is because of her. And I hope someday she reads this, because I want her to know, if I make a difference with my life…that will be because of her too.

The law of averages

Last updated on March 5th, 2018 at 08:14 am

On Tuesday April 7, 2009, a Hermosa Beach ambulance carrying a 3-year-old child to the hospital collided with a pickup truck in a Torrance intersection. The crash happened at 190th Street and Entradero Avenue and occurred about 5:45 p.m. The paramedics immediately called for help and another Hermosa Beach ambulance quickly took the child, who had suffered seizures, to the hospital. Fortunately, the child did not appear to suffer any “physical injuries” from the crash.
On Monday April 13th, 2009 a car struck an ambulance transporting a child to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, MO. Another ambulance rushed to complete the transport. Luckily in this case, there were no injuries.
People have often asked me why I have stayed with this “cause” for so long. Fourteen years ago there was very little data available for me to document what was really happening. Today, there is so much more information available…and yet so many who have the power to help change things know nothing about this.
A wise person reminded me today of the law of averages or in simple terms from Wikipedia: a belief that outcomes of a random event shall “even out” within a small sample. If that is the case, then I guess my best answer would be to say that I have stayed with this cause so long because I have seen what happens when there isn’t a happy ending. And my goal – my determination – is to find a way to ensure our kids are safe before mother nature, the law of averages – or anything else gets a chance to “balance out the scales”.

An EMT’s Story

Last updated on August 30th, 2015 at 06:28 pm

Below is a story told to me by a young EMT back in 1995 – what is truly amazing is how little has changed:
“On Tuesday, September 19, 1995 at approx. 4:00pm, while working on an ambulance, my partner and I were called to do a routine transport at Hugh Spalding Children’s Hospital, an affiliate of Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. We were dispatched to pick up a mother and her infant and bring them back to their residence. I informed my dispatcher that we were not equipped with an infant seat on the truck. I was told to follow usual procedures (strap the mother to the stretcher and have her hold the baby on her lap) and to transport them . I felt this was wrong, but did as I was advised. When I returned to the station I sat down with my supervisor and told him that what I had just done went against everything I believed in. My supervisor respected how I felt and said that what he could try to do was get an infant and toddler seat and keep it in his car and first respond to the scene with us from now on. While I appreciated his efforts, I still felt that this was not enough.
I thought about when I had worked at Egleston’s Children’s Hospital in Atlanta. We used infant and child seats for transport but they were always so difficult to attach to the stretcher. The seat is shaped to fit a car’s seat belts. To attach it to a stretcher meant adjusting the stretcher to an upright position and strapping it in. In doing so, the bottom of the child seat was suspended mid-air and needed to be held in place by sheets and blankets propped up underneath it. No matter how we attempted to manipulate it, it was still unsteady.
And attaching the child to the stretcher was simply not an option. The reality is they are just too small: the straps cover half of their body and can’t restrain them. The straps can’t be tied tight enough to keep them in place or it will hurt them, and when the straps are loose, the child slides all over the stretcher. This makes for a miserable trip for all involved: crying child, stressed parent and helpless crew.
Which brings to mind the dangers of the everyday baby seat being strapped to a stretcher. While working on the ambulance at Egleston’s Children’s Hospital, 9 out of 10 children transported were going from one hospital’s emergency room to the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) at another because they were in severe danger (they were having seizures, their airways were compromised, they had head injuries or were intubated). If any of those children went into arrest along the way, there were approximately 6 time consuming steps that had to be taken before CPR could even begin:
  1. The safety seat shoulder straps had to be removed from the infant/child
  2. The infant/child had to be removed from the seat. (Remember that at this point in time, someone is standing up in a fast moving ambulance, holding a non-breathing infant in their arms, trying to support themselves and the child without falling over)
  3. All of the sheets and blankets that were previously holding the seat in place on the stretcher have to be removed. (These get tossed on the floor and everyone involved keeps kicking them out of the way so that they can help during the trauma…in effect more time wasted).
  4. The straps holding the child seat in place have to be found (under the bar of the seat) and released, and the seat has to be removed from the stretcher.
  5. A short back-board must be placed on the stretcher so that heart compressions may begin
  6. The baby is positioned on the board, and resuscitation can begin.

But that is not the end to this emergency. The infant/child is still sliding all over the place. The technician’s hands can easily be misplaced while doing compressions and there are many other dangers that can occur to this un-restrained child while racing to the hospital.

My partner and I conducted a run-through of this procedure using a doll as a prop Going as fast as we could, it took us 2 minutes and 4 seconds. According to the “Brady Emergency Care” book, “all cells in the body need oxygen for survival. Lethal changes will begin to take place in the brain within 4-6 minutes without a constant and adequate supply of oxygen. Brain cells begin to die within 10 minutes.” It’s clear that two minutes without air for an infant or child is way too long!”

The EMT went home and drew what she believed was needed to solve this problem. It is my hope that somehow, someday, I will help her do that.