We all hope never to find ourselves in the midst of a traumatic situation, but there may come a time when supporting your injured child during an emergency is necessary. This recently happened to me, and I learned some helpful tools I wanted to pass along to other parents who could benefit from them.
Over the winter, Connecticut finally had its first real snowstorm of the season. We were thrilled to have a snow day from school and join our friends at the most popular sledding hill in town. My children were eager to try a new tube my son received for Christmas and inflated it for the first time that morning.
My daughter, the thrill seeker, took the first run on the red and black checkered tube down the snowy hill while dragging her feet to slow herself down. Next was my son. He quickly picked up speed and lost control, sliding to the bottom into a chain link fence pole. My daughter called up to me, saying Ethan was hurt, so I promptly walked down the steep hill to assess the situation.
When I got to the bottom, Ethan told me he had hit his knee, but the pain was in his upper leg. “I broke it, Mom. I know it’s broken.”
He was positioned on his side while lying on the cold ground in agony. I stood at the bottom of that snow-covered field, trying to figure out what I needed to do to support my injured child during an emergency.
This isn’t easy during stressful circumstances, but it’s essential as a parent to stay calm and not overreact. Kids will feed off of their parent’s energy. Therefore, your child is more likely to remain calm if you are calm.
Look for Other Parents or Adults Who Can Help
When I realized my son was severely injured, I knew I needed help. I asked my son’s friend to get his dad. In the meantime, other parents asked if they could help, and I took them up on their offer. My brain was racing, trying to figure out what to do. Having the support of other capable adults was incredibly beneficial when trying to help my son during the accident.
A paramedic once told me he would rather have people call 911 and paramedics show up and not be needed than for people who truly need help to risk further injury by not calling for an ambulance. If you are unsure how to help an injured child during an emergency, don’t hesitate to call 911.
Speak Encouraging Words to Your Child
As difficult as it is to know what to say, I found it helpful to talk about all the positive things happening to my son. I got down on his level so he could hear me, and in a soft yet confident voice, I said, “Ethan, you’re doing great. Help is on the way. We will get you out of here safely and relieve the pain as soon as possible.” I continued to speak positive, encouraging words while the emergency responders assisted him. I wanted him to know I was near and he was safe.
Allow Yourself to Process
When you’re in fight or flight, you just do. Your mind and body are operating on autopilot, going through the motions. This is a necessary survival method, but it is not a place to stay for any length of time. When the time is right, you need to take a step back from it all and let yourself feel what you just experienced. Please make a point to talk to friends and family, breathe through it and let the emotions out. You’ve had to hold it together for your child, and it’s time to take care of yourself, so you can heal from the trauma and continue to be the best parent you can be.
My son ended up breaking his femur. He was taken by ambulance to Danbury Hospital and transferred to CT Children’s Medical Center for surgery. Two weeks post-operation, he was given permission to be fully weight-bearing and is currently in physical therapy, where he is rebuilding muscle and relearning to walk. We expect him to make a full recovery within 6-8 weeks. Hopefully, we’ll build some positive experiences around sledding again next winter, even if it’s just watching.