Most kids are familiar with the sounds of ambulance sirens racing by on the street. Although loud and exciting, it’s helpful to give kids a primer about ambulances and emergency medical services. Because emergencies come without warning, kids should understand the fundamentals of how EMS takes care of people when they need help. These details may help a child react correctly in an emergency situation.
Talk with your child about how EMS staff help people. You might include car accidents, accidents around the home or in a community, and sudden illness as you discuss specific events that can require people to get help right away. Explain to your child that sometimes people need to get to the doctor right away, and when this happens, an ambulance can come with help for the sick or injured person. On board the ambulance are special trained helpers – EMS technicians.
Discuss the protocol for an emergency with your child. Tell your child, “When someone gets very sick or has an accident and needs help, we can pick up the phone and call 911 to get help. The 911 operator will ask you to describe the emergency, and then the operator will send an ambulance to help." Teach your child how to say her full name, telephone number and street address so she can communicate it in a 911 call, counsels the American College of Emergency Physicians.
Differentiate between emergencies and nonemergencies with your child so she understands the difference, suggests the Baker County Department of Emergency Services. A skinned knee or a sliver in her finger would not be an emergency; a person lying unconscious, such as if your child can't wake you up, or a person falling off a roof would be an emergency and a reason to call 911.
Explain the special purpose of an ambulance. Help your child understand that the ambulance carries lots of different types of life-saving equipment and medicines. An ambulance stays at the hospital or its garage when it’s not helping someone. When an emergency call comes in, the EMS technicians run to the ambulance and drive it where a sick or injured person needs help. Because the technicians have all their equipment in the ambulance, they can often help a person before placing him in the ambulance for a ride to the hospital.
Teach your child that EMS technicians are friendly helpers who want to assist people who are hurt or sick, advises The City of Linden, New Jersey Fire Department. Strange people, sirens and the chaos of an emergency can be frightening for a child, but if you teach your child that EMS workers will always help in an emergency, you can help prepare your child to trust EMS.
Arrange for your child to meet EMS technicians and see a real ambulance, if possible. Call your local EMS service center and speak with a representative about scheduling a time when you and your child can tour the center. The experience of seeing a real ambulance and meeting some staff might help your child feel more reassured about EMS technicians, advises the McGregor Institute of EMS.