MY LITTLE IPECAC GIRL
Anytime I received a call about a child in distress, I always drove my ambulance a little bit faster than any other emergency call I responded to.
This 911 call was reported to us as a four-year-old female, possible overdose. My ambulance, another aid unit and a fire engine were dispatched to the scene.
When we arrived, the typical mother, in tears and urging us to hurry please, greeted us at the door!
As instructed, we hurried into the living room to find a small blond headed girl with a worried, “I can tell I’ve done something wrong but I don’t know what it is yet” look on her cute little face.
All she knew was that suddenly seven very large, very strange men carrying all sorts of equipment were rushing towards her. She did the best offense / defense maneuver ever devised; she burst out crying. I could just imagine how scared she must have been.
My initial assessment was that she was in no immediate distress. She was crying loudly, so her airway was intact and she probably had good oxygen saturation. She was standing with her arms outstretched to her mother, who was right on our heals. She had a steady gait (the little girl that is, her moms gait wasn’t doing so good) so I knew her neuro-motor functions were ok. Her skin was warm and dry and she had good color. Her eyes were wide open and following everyone around and I could see that her pupils were the same size and not pin points. She also had a good strong, steady pulse.
For parents and students who are reading this, that initial assessment took all of six seconds to perform.
After performing a physical exam, getting a blood pressure, and taking the history of what happened, we spent some time gently talking to our little patient and reassuring her mother. This made both of them relax and the girl started warming up to us. Soon she was smiling, laughing and really enjoying all the unexpected attention.
I could tell she was relieved that she wasn’t going to get her butt spanked after being so certain she had done something terribly wrong. It was obvious she thought this was turning out just fine. Little did she know what we had in store for her. If she had, she would have taken off like a rabbit.
The story we got from her mother was that she found her little girl in the bathroom, up on the sink with the medicine cabinet open and an empty bottle of adult strength codeine cough syrup in her tiny hand. Red sticky syrup was all over her face. The mother was certain that the bottle was nearly full since she got it…TWO YEARS AGO!
Just a reminder to everyone, especially if you have children, if you are no longer using medication, throw the stuff away or give it to your drug addict brother-in-law, but get it away from the children, please!
I explained to mom that we had to induce vomiting but we would be right there and everything would be OK. I found a large plastic trash bag, tore a hole in it and put it around the girls’ neck. This was great fun for her and she stood there smiling like it was Christmas. She just knew she was going to get some type of present. Sure enough, we were going to give her one. One she wouldn’t forget.
We got out our bottle of ipecac and convinced her it was something very good by having two firemen pretend to drink some. She happily drank the appropriate dose for us. We immediately looked at our watches, knowing that at any moment she would not be smiling and she certainly would not like us anymore.
Right on schedule the ipecac began to do its job.
One minute she was standing there with the most beautiful smile on her face, and then, instantly, it vanished. Her eyes grew to twice their size. She looked at her former friends as if to say, “What’s this? Something is going on in my tummy!” She even touched her stomach with both hands and looked down at her tummy.
Her bulging eyes gazed up at us with absolute confusion as a little gurgle and burp escaped her lips. I will never forget the look she gave us next. It was something to the effect of, “You aren’t nice men, you’re bad men. You gave me something bad!” It was a look of total betrayal. If her transformation hadn’t been so funny, I might have been hurt.
She gurgled again and the seven brave medical men started moving backwards. We had been using the technique of getting down to eye level with the child to make her feel more comfortable. This was about to backfire on us.
The girl took a deep breath, her eyes now two huge circles of white. One of the E.M.T.’s behind me yelled, “She’s gonna blow!”
Instantly and with more force than the space shuttle lifting off, she exploded in vomit. She did not aim for the hefty bag but vomited an incredible amount of fluid directly at us.
The seven brave men reacted instantly: Half of them falling over each other running for cover and the others frantically reaching for the hefty bag in a vain attempt to catch or deflect as much vomit as possible.
The spewing little girls’ stomach contents rained down upon everything and everybody in sight. I was unaware that so much vomit could come from so small a person.
After seeing so many amusing things; her face turning from ‘happy little girl’ to ‘you are bad men’, witnessing seven grown men run like panic stricken turkeys and seeing a tiny little girl spray vomit like a broken water main, we all caught a bad case of the giggles.
We giggled so hard we took turns going outside to get control of ourselves. But one look at that empty trash bag with a little head poking through it and a living room splattered with puke, I had to go back outside.
My little ipecac girl stood there in the middle of her destruction with a satisfied grin on her face and said, “I’m done now, I feel better.”
We transported Mother and daughter to the hospital for observation.
I had looked death in the face and it puked all over me. But, I had lived to tell about it.