You may remember our guest post from earlier this year about teaching young children how and when to call 9-1-1 (“Who They Gonna Call”). In the original article, found on babysittingjobs.com, the authors emphasize making sure your little people know their critical information (name, age, address) and what kind of circumstances really warrant an emergency call. It’s a helpful article and worth another look.
A great example of these principles at work has gone viral. The video below shows the conversation between 5-year-old Savannah and a 9-1-1 dispatcher, after her father’s chest pains make it too difficult for him to speak.
When instructing kids on 9-1-1 protocols, be sure they know to stay as calm as Savannah does. She speaks clearly, listens well, answers questions, and repeats the dispatcher’s questions to her dad verbatim—more than many of us might manage in a frightening situation! She also does a fantastic job of following directions, even when she first wants to do something else (the whole pajama issue is priceless!). It’s pretty standard for dispatchers to tell the caller to unlock a door for the EMTs and then stay close to the person in trouble, but if other circumstances necessitate more specific actions, kids need to listen calmly and do exactly what the dispatcher tells them to do.
One of the best ways Savannah helps the professionals is by offering specific information readily. Not only can she give the dispatcher her name and age, but she describes the problem accurately and even gives him a heads-up about the family dog. A useful role-play might involve a parent acting out an emergency (heart attack, fainting, fall and injury) and having the child describe exactly what they see. Model a call, giving details of the victim’s situation (not breathing, not moving, can’t talk), then have kids take turns observing an accident and making pretend calls.
If you need more ideas and resources for family 9-1-1 training, check out the links below.