“Partial drowning. Location: Holiday Inn” the dispatcher’s voice echoed over the radio. “Four-year-old male.” Suddenly we were all on full-alert. The paramedic, who was in charge of the crew that evening, picked up the radio and replied quickly, “Community 1 responding.” With the flip of a switch, the lights and sirens atop the ambulance came to life, piercing the quiet of the night. The location of the call was near where we had been waiting on standby, so it was only a matter of minutes before we were on-scene in front of the hotel. We unloaded the first-in gear onto the stretcher and headed for the pool.
We were flagged down by an anxious-looking woman standing near a group of bystanders, who were all huddled around a small child.
“They pulled him out of the pool. It didn’t look like he was breathing, so someone started CPR,” she said, her voice shaking slightly. We quickly made our way through the crowd and knelt next to the patient. The paramedic started setting up suction and airway equipment in case we had to manually perform ventilations. I performed a rapid trauma assessment and found that the boy was breathing adequately and seemed to have regained consciousness. Knowing the possibility for internal injuries and complications was high with pediatric patients, we made the decision to place him on a back board and transport to the trauma center without delay.
I was nervous as I held the boy’s head and spine in alignment while he was secured to the board because this was the first patient that I had hands-on experience with in the field. It didn’t help that the child’s parents were standing over us watching our every move. I can’t say I blame them, but, as a brand-new EMT-in-training, it was nerve-wracking. The paramedic took the lead and informed the parents that they could meet us at the hospital, where we would be taking their son.
While en route to the trauma center, the boy became increasingly upset and began to pull against the...