Helping a First Responder by Utawana Leap, Lianna’s Mom

One day in kindergarten, my daughter’s positioning stroller tipped over in gym class. Since Lianna has no self defense reflexes, she hit her head on the gym floor.  I was called immediately and arrived at the school in less than 10 minutes. She had a glorious goose egg on the middle of her forehead.

As a precaution, a teacher who was also a volunteer EMT thought it wouldn’t hurt to have her checked out.  At that time, to be seen promptly at the local hospital, you had to arrive by ambulance. So the teacher/EMT personally called our local life squad and we were transported without lights and sirens so as not to scare Lianna or other students.

On the way to the hospital, the paramedic asked me many questions that I knew were possible signs of brain damage.  That’s when I realized if I were not present to answer these questions, they may treat the wrong symptoms. Lianna already has brain damage (lack of oxygen at birth – quad spastic CP).  I could tell that she was mad and scared, but otherwise appeared fine.

The CT scan proved her head really IS as hard as mine so she was released. But this scare really stuck with me. I contacted our local fire department and spoke with their EMS director. I asked what info is needed for triage if the parent or caregiver was not present or capable of communicating.

The basic info needed is:

  • Name and photo if possible
  • List of allergies
  • List of medications with dosage
  • Medical conditions and history
  • Contact info for family
  • List of doctors or specialists
  • Any important facts about the individual

I chose to add additional info:

  • because Lianna is non-verbal but has her own sign language. I put in bold “she understands you”
  • I explained her basic yes/no.
  • I listed the specs of her spinal fusion, dates, and length.
  • I listed her g-tube size, type of food, and general amounts given.
  • I included a copy of her baclofen pump emergency card.
  • I listed her primary physician in bold and all specialists with phone numbers.
  • When she did have seizures, I included the seizure protocol.
  • I also chose to list her SSN# and medical record # for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital since she receives all her care there.

I made this document into a tri-fold brochure.  I print it several times a year and give it to all of her teachers, school nurse, school resource officers, any staff that would see her or help with an evacuation. It is also in every bag we have and several laminated copies are posted in our van.

There are many electronic methods of storing medical data, however each first responder uses a different system and may not be able to read a USB stick. This is why I chose to stick with paper and waterproof ink. I do laminate a few copies such as the ones in our van.

Now I feel that my ‘proactive paranoia’ has created a way to speak for Lianna just in case I can’t. A tiny bit of worry that I can now let go.

I have been overwhelmed with the positive response from the medical community when I show them the brochure.  Even at regular appointments, it saves a lot of time from answering the same questions over and over again.

At 5am on this April 7th, Lianna was severely congested and was having trouble breathing. My pulse ox gave me a low reading and I ‘mildly’ freaked out. So, I called the squad. With my brochure, the paperwork guy didn’t even need to speak to me and I was able to talk to the EMT about her condition. I chose not to transport but drove her to the ED myself just to be safe. (She’s fine by the way just hates congestion as much as me and my pulse ox needed new batteries.) Just another example of how it has helped even when I am present.

Please see the edited version of our current brochure. I used Publisher and tried to color code areas. Simple or fancy, it could help with regular medical care or  improve the odds in a more serious situation in your child’s life someday.


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