Preparing For The Worst

Friday, October 14, 2011 - 9:53am

Firefighters train to treat critically injured children.

When firefighters respond to an emergency those first minutes of medical care are critical, but often when they go to help children, the patients are too young to tell firefighters what's wrong.

That's just one of the challenges that San Francisco firefighters learned to overcome recently in a special training session.

"Pediatric patients are not little adults. To try to use adult equipment on kids is very difficult which is why we're exposing first responders to different ways to deliver medications, IV fluids, and understand how much fluid to give," says nurse Lynda Knight.

The training, using pediatric mannequins, is the first of its kind in the nation.

The scenarios look real because they are all based on real-life emergencies experienced by children in the bay area.

Treating kids in the field can be tough.

They often are too young to communicate, and one size does not fit all.

On any given day, firefighters may be helping a newborn, toddler, or school-aged child.

Medication doses have to be adjusted based on their size.

That's why firefighters now carry special pediatric charts and equipment.

"We hope these few minutes practicing here will help them deliver patients to us alive and with a pulse so we can take over," says Dr. Bernard Dannenberg.

He's convinced teaching first responders how to treat the smallest patients will help them survive the biggest emergencies.

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