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Saturday, December 1, 2007

A reassuring influence: Ambulance emergencies

While watching my son's track meet, I saw his friend Jay collapse on the field. I rushed over to help. Jay had been stung by a bee and was having a severe allergic reaction. Thankfully, he had an epinephrine injector with him. I identified myself as an RN, administered the epinephrine, and asked bystanders to call 911 and Jay's parents. He responded well to the drug.

Meanwhile, his older brother ran up and said that their parents weren't at the meet. As the coach tried to contact the parents, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) arrived. Both boys demanded that the older brother be permitted to ride with Jay to the hospital. The EMTs were reluctant, but the coach and I insisted that keeping the children together would help keep Jay calm.

Later, I learned that the parents felt I'd overstepped my authority by allowing the older brother to ride in the ambulance. Should I have done something differently?

Signed, A.W., Pennsylvania

Columnist Susan Salladay's Answer:

A family presence is calming in an emergency if the individuals are in control emotionally. In this case, it sounds as if the older brother was a reassuring influence and that keeping the boys apart might have added to Jay’s distress, so you probably made a good call.

Advice: In an emergency, a family member should go along in the ambulance.

Read one of our allergic reaction story, or read more from the source article in the November issue of Nursing2007 by Prof. Susan Salladay.

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