Brave tamariki made more than 400 emergency 111 calls to St John in the 12 months ending March 2017 and 321 of them related to life-threatening and urgent situations such as cardiac arrest.
In late March 2016 St John started evaluating how many emergency 111 calls came from children and Director of Community Health Services, Sarah Manley, says the results are heartening.
“From our perspective, the fact that 410 children under 16 knew what number and service to call in an emergency is impressive.
“These days children watch a lot of international online and television productions where emergency numbers are not 111, so it’s very reassuring to know that the message is getting through and, at times of extreme stress, children know what number to call and can access life-saving St John services.”
One of the children who rang St John was Libby. Her mother, Karen, suffered a serious medical emergency at home last December and 10-year-old Libby dialled 111 and stayed on the line with the St John call handler giving vital information and updates until ambulance officers arrived.
“I’m so proud of Libby for knowing what to do during what must have been a very scary situation for her. I don’t think she’s aware of how impressive her response was. It’s so important that parents teach their children to call 111 in an emergency, to stay calm and to know the address or location of where they’re calling from,” says Karen.
“A key objective of St John is to build community resilience and this starts with our young. ASB St John in Schools is a programme designed to give children the skills and confidence to take action in an emergency situation,” says Manley.
By June 30 this year, the programme had been delivered to 270,252 pre-school and primary school students (since 2015).
Most (207) of the child 111 calls for an ambulance came from the Auckland region. Many of the callers described patients having all or some of the following serious symptoms: breathing problems, appearing unconscious, having chest pain, having had a fall or suffering from a seizure.
While the call-takers did not always specifically ask the callers for their age, they are trained to determine when a child is on the phone and can assess a situation verbally so that the right service gets to the patient at the right time.