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Knowing How to Use an AED Can Save a Child’s Life

We have a problem in this country, sudden cardiac arrest. Approximately 450,000 people die each year from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in the United States. It can happen to anybody, anywhere, anytime and without any warning, so helping a person suffering from cardiac arrest is all about what you do immediately following the persons collapse. The best “save” rates have been reported when using an automated external defibrillator or AED to deliver an electric shock or defibrillation within three minutes of the patient’s collapse. Early defibrillation in conjunction with C.P.R has been found to be the only definitive treatment for sudden cardiac arrest. For every minute that a person in cardiac arrest goes without being successfully treated by defibrillation the chance of survival decreases by 7 percent per minute in the first minutes, and decreases by 10 percent per minute as time advances beyond 3 minutes, so starting life saving measures such as CPR and using the AED as soon as it arrives it essential.

Symptoms of Sudden Cardiac Arrest include:

  • Collapse
  • Lack of pulse
  • No breathing
  • Unconsciousness

With time being of the essence and the average response time for emergency services being 10 to 12 minutes (which may not be fast enough for a patient because after approximately three to five minutes irreversible brain damage may begin to occur if there is no defibrillation), having access to an AED and knowing how to use it is very important. So how do you use an Automated External Defibrillator? As we said before, AED’s are very user friendly and speak in plain English and will walk you through the entire process, even reminding you to call for help if you haven’t already done so. In the basic life support class we have a pneumonic that helps people remember the 4 basic steps to using an AED: P.A.A.S. This stands for Power, Attach, Analyze, and Shock.

  • Power: Most AED’s turn on when open but some may have a power button.
  • Attach stands for attaching the defibrillator pads to the chest of the patient to match the pictures that are provided on the pads.
  • Analyze means to let the machine analyze the patient’s heart rhythm and determine if the patient needs to be defibrillated,
  • Shock means to manually press the shock button and shock the patient if and when the machine says it’s time to do so.

Now as we said before, having the proper training will make this whole process much smoother but is not a requirement. I would however recommend it.

Where to find an AED? AED’s either held by trained personnel who will attend events or are public access units which can be found in places including corporate and government offices, shopping centers, airports, airplanes, restaurants , casinos, hotels, sports stadiums, schools, and universities, community centers, fitness centers, health clubs, theme parks, workplaces and any other location where people may congregate. In many areas, emergency vehicles are likely to carry AEDs, with some units carrying an AED in addition to manual defibrillators. Some areas even have dedicated community first responders, who are volunteers tasked with keeping an AED and taking it to any victims in their area. AEDs are also increasingly common on commercial airliners, cruise ships, and other transportation facilities and with advances in technology and policy requiring AED’s to be placed in more and more places AED’s are becoming more accessible as well as more affordable.

Automated External Defibrillators are truly miracle machines and are changing people’s lives for the better and I hope this article has given you a basic understanding of how to use one should the time come. I encourage everyone to take a certified AED instruction course and really become familiar with these machines and the process involved in using them because you never know when you could be called to action and as we said before, there is nothing better you can do in a cardiac arrest situation than using an AED.

Thank you and Have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season.


Editor’s Note: Sudden cardiac arrest among young athletes is nowhere near as common as it is across the general population, however when it occurs, it is unexpected and the results are often tragic. It’s estimated that between 6,000 and 8,000 young people experience sudden cardiac arrest (or SCA) each year, and only about one in 10 survive. An AED can save their life, however today only 15 states require them on school campuses. Not all of those require them to be present on athletic fields. Parents that means its up to you. Be observant. During the sports season, look out for signs that your child may be struggling. And talk to your school about AED’s. Source: Nemours Children’s Hospital

In an Emergency, Please Wait – EMS Will Be There!

It is a beautiful Friday afternoon and my unit is dispatched on a 53 year old female having a seizure. Nothing seems out of the ordinary until we find out that the patient is a passenger in a car that is being driven by her daughter who is speeding while on the phone with 911 and ignoring the advice of the dispatcher and the police car next to her telling her to pull over or go to the closest hospital. The story ends with the daughter driving a very long way home, passing 2 hospitals, all while having a car full of hysterical family who meet us at their home and let us examine the patient only after they have carried her into the house against our advice yet again. Thankfully in the end, everyone was ok but this type of scene is not an uncommon one.

It is a normal reaction to panic when an emergency happens, but the decision to call 911 or to drive the person to the hospital yourself should be weighed very carefully. There are situations where you can calmly put a person in your car and calmly drive them to the hospital and then there are the situations like the one I described above or the one you see in movies all the time with the pregnant wife screaming and panic has taken over and all regard for safety has gone out the window and something terrible may happen. To avoid situations like these we ask you to wait. We ask you to wait for the emergency responders who will show up quickly and manage all the panic and give the best possible care and make sure everyone gets to the hospital safely. The back of a rescue truck or ambulance is a much better place to be should something change for the worse that would cause even more panic and reckless driving had you chosen not to wait.

As always I advocate when in doubt call 911. It is why we are there and it is much easier for us to find an address than it is for us to find a moving car. Please do not put the lives of you and your loved ones in jeopardy, please call and wait, EMS will be there!

I hope you all have a happy and safe 2018.


Editor’s Note: This post first appeared in January 2013. We loved it then…we thought it might be the right time to revisit it…especially for those of you that haven’t seen it yet. Have a happy, healthy and safe New Year.

Helping Your Fearful Child Feel Comfortable With EMS

We have all seen the scene at the mall. The child is put there with the mall Santa Clause or Easter Bunny and is absolutely in terror and crying their eyes out. How can this be? Santa and the Easter Bunny are friends and would never hurt them. Having done many Firefighter presentations at various schools, events, and EMS safety weeks, I have seen these same children have the exact same reaction to me when I put on my firefighting bunker gear. I can’t say I blame them completely. A guy in a bright red suit, a 6 foot tall bunny, and a guy in a bunch of gear with an axe in his hand and sounding like Darth Vader are not easy things to get used to. The good news is that kids learn pretty fast that both Santa and the Easter Bunny are friends and bring them stuff they want. The bad news is that teaching them that the Firefighters are friendly as well will take some extra work.

In previous posts (Protect Your Family From Fire), we have talked about having a plan for exiting your house in case of fire. In addition to this activity I would like to encourage you to take a trip to your local fire station, attend an EMS or Fire safety week demonstration, schedule a demonstration at your child’s school, or at the very the least look at some pictures and videos online about firefighters and their protective clothing.

Here’s a great video to watch with your kids. It’s a little long, but they cover quite a bit about what your child needs to know about interacting with EMS personnel in the first four minutes. The last nine walks your child step-by-step through an example, from calling for help through the ambulance ride.

Teaching your children that the scary looking people moving around in the smoke are there to help and not to hide from them is a key in surviving a house fire. Having led demonstrations where the firefighter starts out in plain clothes, just talking and answering questions and gradually progresses to being in full gear, on air, and still talking as he/she has been to the children makes all the difference in the world. The children can start to understand that the person underneath all that gear is the same one that started the demonstration and that they are there to help them.

In the end, teaching your children about how firefighters dress and how they will look in all their gear will be a good experience for everyone and will deliver some valuable information for all. And while EMS may not be Santa or a 6 foot bunny, we still might have some goodies for the kids.

I hope you have a safe summer.

Remembering 911, Saving Our Children’s Future

Today is the 14th anniversary of the worst attack against America and our way of life and is a day a national remembrance. The 911 attacks attacked differences. Differences of religion, differences in appearance. The attacks said we are worthy to live you are not. The attacks said we are better.

Child and 9-11 monumentTaking a moment to remember, reminds us to embrace our differences, to embrace other religions, different governments and different appearances. Taking a moment to remember says we all deserve to live. Doing so builds a better life and better future for our children, for all children, for many generations to come. Only we can teach hate and only we can erase hate in the future for our children with love.


Editor’s Note: This post first ran on 9-11, 6 years ago. It is the author’s hope – and ours – that by remembering and telling our children, we create a better world for them. They deserve it. We all do!!
With heavy hearts…and with love…from Pediatric Safety.

Frederick the Paramedic: Helping Your Child Feel Safe with EMS

Frederick the Paramedic Cover 2My wife Nicole and I have over 25 years of combined experience as paramedics, and we are now co-authors of the new children’s book Frederick the Paramedic. Through the years, we have seen an increase in pediatric 911 emergency calls, and they all have one thing in common – the patient may be more scared of us that what is actually ailing them. This can lead to several negative factors, such as increasing their anxiety level, which may lead to worsening their condition. Typically, a child’s point of reference regarding medical care is that they are going to receive a shot or some other uncomfortable procedure. This series is designed to alleviate some of those fears by putting them in control, and even prevent an incident from happening.

After the birth of our daughter Sophia in 2013, and many picture books later, we noticed that there are plenty of story books about safety, but almost none about what happens if you do get hurt. We’ve also seen that much of the children’s literature regarding EMS is in the form of a pamphlet or flyer, which has no identifiable characters, and is easily tossed away. Also, we noticed that the characters are often fantasized, which does not provide a true representation of what really happens – this is why the stethoscopes in our book don’t talk! We want to provide as close to a real situation as possible, but in a fun cartoon form, so that there are no false expectations. This is how Frederick the Paramedic came to be.

In our first book, we designed Frederick the Paramedic to promote safety, injury prevention, memory recall, decision making, and EMS awareness. The reader will partner up with Frederick and go through a day in the life of a paramedic. Together they will check out their ambulance, get dispatched to a call, arrive on scene, assess and treat their patient, then transport him to the hospital and give a report to the doctor.

Based on actual calls we have responded to, national paramedic protocols and real data from the leaders in childhood safety, we created the first story about 12 year old Tommie. Tommie goes skateboarding with no safety gear, and sustains an injury to his arm. When Frederick and your child arrive on scene, they are greeted by the police and fire departments, who give a brief report to Frederick about the scene and what happened. Frederick assists his partner in assessing and treating Tommie’s injuries. They then transport Tommie to the Emergency Room, where he is greeted by a Dr. who takes an x-ray. Your reader is guided by Frederick to give a report to the Dr. about their findings and treatments. Then Frederick recaps with the reader about the dangers of not wearing safety gear while skateboarding

By choosing common childhood activities, Frederick the Paramedic relates to what kids enjoy doing on a daily basis. Some of these activities may have potential for injury. Preventing injuries in the first place is one of the main goals of the book. But when they do happen, and 911 is called, your reader will understand that we are there to help. They will understand that we may need to touch their arm to make it feel better, and we aren’t there to make them feel worse.

Fred pictureThe great part about this concept is how dynamic it is. There can be a Frederick the Paramedic book about anything relating to childhood injury, sickness, or even witnessing a loved one being treated by a paramedic. That is where we are planning to go with this. Tackling issues such as food allergies and asthma, to grandparents with chest pains or signs of a stroke. In today’s economy, grandparents are watching grandchildren more and more. By educating the child to look for signs of a stroke and calling 911 early, can literally be a difference of life or death, as well as taking the child out of harms way.

In the couple of months that Frederick the Paramedic has been available, we have received emails from people stating how the book has helped their child. One such example was from a school in Vermont where a 1st grader was taken by ambulance. The rest of the class was very upset and scared for their friend. Frederick was donated to their school library about a month after the incident, and the librarian was very excited to have a relatable book that she could read to the children. She realized that she had no other material that could explain what was happing until then.

A little biased here, but my 3 year old nephew was going with my sister to a Dr. appointment, and asked if he would see Tommie there. It took my sister a minute to recall that it was Tommie from the book! But we have received several emails and comments about how kids have been recalling the story at times where they may see a hospital, or an ambulance. One mother stated her son asked if Frederick was on that ambulance. The fears that have been instilled in children at such a young age regarding medical establishments are breaking down.

We hope you enjoy a copy with your little ones, and hope they never need an ambulance, but let them be prepared if they do!


​If you ever think you need to call 911, call!

  • Everyone has a different idea on what an emergency is. Calling 911 is a scary time for anyone. Paramedics will assess the situation and provide the best treatments possible, while trying to ease the anxieties that go along with the patients emergency.
  • Teaching your children as early as possible can to call 911 is an important skill for them to learn. In a situation where a caregiver were to have an emergency, it may save a life as well as their own.

Beyond Basics: Trick or Treat Tips from our EMS Safety Expert

halloween-kidsBreak out the costumes and face paint because it’s almost that time of year again, Halloween. While Halloween may be the superbowl Sunday for candy hungry little monsters and superhero’s, it can be a time of worry and anxiety for parents. Aside from having to find the right costume and gear for the kids, the preparation for the activities is of the utmost importance. The following is just a small list of things to consider before Halloween to help everyone have fun and ease some worry.

Plan to go with your child or children. This may seem like a ”no brainer“ but it would surprise you how many people just send children out with a group.

If you are going to go in a group, try to make it a small but manageable group. Groups with large amounts of children can get confusing and problematic, so try to keep the group ratio at 3 to 4 children per adult if possible.

Having the children carry AND wear something lit such as a flashlight, glow bracelet or necklace, or flashing attire for visibility. Light-up shoes are also practical and ever-so-noticeable on a dark Halloween night. Remember, you want them to be seen by cars driving by and you. This goes for parents as well. Parents should be the guides to both kids and cars passing by and that is best accomplished by being easily seen.

Adults should try and plan a route in advance and check it during the daylight for such obstacles as broken sidewalks (or no sidewalks), construction or other obstacles that could trip up trick or treaters. Trick or treating in familiar neighborhoods or areas will make everyone more comfortable and in the event something does happen, it is always best to be in familiar surroundings.

Try to have the children wear well fitting, comfortable shoes, preferably sneakers. While adorable in the store as a costume accessory, kids planning to go trick or treat should wear sturdy shoes and not the princess high-heel, too-large boots, or other types of shoes often shown with costumes. Save those types of shoes for costume parties and not when a child is going to trick or treat. Their feet–and most likely you who may end up carrying either the shoes or the child and you – will both be thankful. Also avoiding costumes that drag on the ground can help as well. While cute initially, costumes that drag can trip up little feet, get caught on bushes, and create a tussle that sometimes results in the child wanting to remove the costume. Remember, kids who trick or treat want to be costumed AND comfortable.

The parent should always go with the child to the door to see what is being handed out (and who is doing the handing out). If what is being handed out looks old, suspicious, or just plain wrong, then move on to the next house or Immediately remove it from your child’s stash and get rid of it or keep it for reporting if necessary. But the most important part is that the child will not have it.

Allergies are on this list too. If your child has food allergies, then it is critical that you inspect everything they have received and do your best to weed out possible problems before your child ingests anything. Bringing along a child EPI-PEN can really do wonders here to give you a little more piece of mind.

Now the staples of Halloween safety will always apply to this list.

  • Only approach well lit houses,
  • Inspect ALL candy and items in your child’s bounty BEFORE they have a chance to eat it, separate it with friends or hide it somewhere.
  • Try and go at dusk before it becomes too dark and much harder to see children and
  • Try to walk and not run and
  • Always have a cell phone handy in case of emergency.

The list of tips for safety on Halloween can go on forever and when it comes to your children, you can never be too safe, but by using some pre planning and basic safety techniques, you and your monsters, superhero’s and princesses will have a great and safe Halloween.

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