6 Situations When You Should Call an Ambulance for a Child

6 Situations When You Should Call an Ambulance for a Child

When a child falls ill, all parents become anxious, but their responses can vary significantly. Some parents patiently wait for the pediatrician, while others immediately call emergency services without assessing whether urgent help is necessary. It is important not to call an ambulance unnecessarily, as this could prevent other children in critical conditions from receiving timely medical assistance. However, it is equally crucial not to miss the moment when a child truly needs emergency care. Therefore, every parent should know the situations that warrant a call to emergency services:

1. Severe Abdominal Pain, Vomiting, or Diarrhea with Blood

If a child has severe abdominal pain, vomiting, or diarrhea with blood, they may lie curled up due to the pain, have no appetite, and refuse to drink water. These symptoms can indicate serious conditions like acute appendicitis, peritonitis, internal organ injury, dysentery, pancreatitis, concussion, meningitis, intestinal obstruction, or poisoning. Attempting to treat the child with fever reducers or antidiarrheal medication can be dangerous. To prevent vomit from entering the lungs, lay the child on their side and call an ambulance immediately. Avoid giving food or drink until a precise diagnosis is made, as vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration, posing a significant risk to the child’s life.

2. High Fever Lasting More Than 3 Days

A persistent high fever that does not subside after taking antipyretic medications can be caused by flu, heatstroke, viral infections, drug poisoning, or exposure to toxic substances. If a child’s temperature reaches 39.5-40°C (103-104°F), an ambulance should be called, especially for infants with a temperature above 38.0-38.5°C (100.4-101.3°F). The decision to call an ambulance also depends on the child’s overall condition. If the fever reduces after medication and the child is active, eating, and drinking, it may be sufficient to consult a pediatrician.

3. Shortness of Breath Lasting More Than 30 Minutes

Breathing difficulties that persist for more than half an hour, characterized by rapid, noisy breathing, can be symptoms of obstructive bronchitis, asthma, allergic reactions, pleurisy, or pneumonia. Call emergency services if the child’s breathing rate exceeds 50 breaths per minute, and the symptoms persist. In the meantime, ventilate the room, keep the child warm, and offer warm fluids.

4. Injuries, Fractures, and Sprains

Injuries, fractures, and sprains are common in childhood. If the child complains of pain in a limb or other body part but can tolerate it, parents often take them to a clinic themselves. However, an ambulance should be called immediately if:

  • The child is in severe pain, has a fever that cannot be reduced, has an open fracture or a bone fragment is visible under the skin, experiences frequent vomiting, loses consciousness, complains of tingling or numbness, or there is suspicion of head, neck, spinal, or internal organ injuries. Do not move the child if there is a potential head, neck, or spine injury. Paramedics should immobilize the spine before transporting the child.

5. Cuts and Bleeding

While parents can typically manage minor cuts by stopping the bleeding, cleaning the wound, and applying a bandage, an ambulance should be called if the child has poor blood clotting, and you are unable to stop the bleeding.

Knowing these critical situations helps ensure that a child receives timely medical attention, which can significantly impact their recovery and survival.

6. Poisoning

If you suspect that your child has ingested a toxic substance or has been exposed to one, you should act quickly:

  • Call emergency services immediately.
  • Try to determine the type and quantity of the substance ingested.
  • Do not induce vomiting unless instructed to do so by a healthcare professional.
  • If the child is unconscious, place them in the recovery position and monitor their breathing until help arrives.

General Points:

  • Recognizing Critical Signs: Regardless of the specific symptoms, parents should be vigilant for general danger signs such as loss of consciousness, difficulty breathing, changes in skin color (pale or bluish), seizures, or sudden behavioral changes.
  • Providing Medical Information: When contacting emergency services, be sure to provide all necessary information, such as the child’s age, current symptoms, any medications they are taking, and a medical history of any previous conditions.
  • Remaining Calm and Acting Quickly: Acting calmly and swiftly can make a significant difference. Stay calm and try to soothe the child while waiting for help to arrive.

By knowing these situations and responding quickly and effectively, parents can ensure they provide the best possible care for their children in critical times.