Mum says thanks to 000 hero

Ambo, grandad keep their cool to come to tod­dler’s res­cue

Sunday Tasmanian - - Front Page - ANNE MATHER

“MY baby’s blue, he’s not breath­ing, he’s un­con­scious.”

This was the har­row­ing 000 call from a dis­traught Kristy Mon­son as she clung to the limp body of her young son, Jack.

But the trau­matic story ends well and Ms Mon­son, right, has now met Am­bu­lance Tas­ma­nia team leader Philippa Behrens, whose calm di­rec­tion on the phone that day helped save the North-West tod­dler’s life.

TRIPLE-0 call tak­ers deal with life and death emer­gen­cies ev­ery day and while it’s their pro­fes­sional duty to re­main calm on the phone, some calls leave them shaken. When Philippa Behrens took a call re­cently about a tod­dler chok­ing on a bis­cuit, she knew it was touch and go. Jack, then 13 months old, was un­con­scious and had stopped breath­ing. “As a call taker, chok­ing is my worst night­mare be­cause it’s such a time-crit­i­cal event,” said Ms Behrens, from Am­bu­lance Tas­ma­nia. “If I’m not able to help them dis­lodge it, he’ll pass, he’s not go­ing to be alive … I was shak­ing all day af­ter­wards.” The emer­gency, on Au­gust 30, was also mum Kristy Mon­son’s worst night­mare. “He was un­con­scious for about five or seven min­utes, but it seemed like hours had passed,” the Smith­ton mum said. “I was yelling and cry­ing but the poor [emer­gency call] lady stayed so calm while I shouted to her through the phone.”

While the long-term out­come of such calls is gen­er­ally un­known for med­i­cal dis­patch call tak­ers, the two women met last week and took stock of their achieve­ment: a healthy lit­tle Jack.

“To meet them is such an hon­our, we don’t usu­ally get to hear what hap­pens or see their faces,” said Ms Behrens.

Mrs Mon­son said her baby had never had any trou­ble with food be­fore the emer­gency, and it was ter­ri­fy­ing how quickly and silently he choked on the dry bis­cuit.

“He was watch­ing kids car­toons hap­pily and then he went silent … I checked on him be­cause he was so silent and still, but he was al­ready blue and was limp and floppy. I phoned my fa­ther-in-law who lived nearby and then I called triple-0.”

Ms Behrens, who is an emer­gency med­i­cal team leader, took the call about Jack to help out be­cause the team was busy on other calls.

“Kristy was just scream­ing down the end of the phone: ‘my baby’s blue, my baby’s blue, he’s not breath­ing, he’s un­con­scious’.”

Ms Behrens said the mum was in­con­solable, but it was for­tu­nate Kristy had al­ready called her fa­ther-in-law.

“She was cry­ing and scream­ing and I was ac­tu­ally hav­ing a lot of trou­ble, but the sav­ing grace was that the grandad ar­rived,” Ms Behrens said. “He came through the door, took over the call and did ex­actly as I told him.”

Grandad Leon Mon­son fol­lowed a rig­or­ous pro­ce­dure sev­eral times be­fore it had any ef­fect.

Mr Mon­son had to strad­dle the child while plac­ing his hands just above the baby’s navel.

He was then in­structed to push quickly into the child’s stom­ach, to push up air to dis­lodge the bis­cuit.

“This didn’t work for 3-4 rep­e­ti­tions, but I said just keep do­ing it un­til Jack can breathe. I just kept telling grandad to keep do­ing it.

“Then, af­ter nu­mer­ous tries, Jack took this enor­mous gasp and we all heard him. He took one breath in, but it wasn’t enough, [the bis­cuit] was still clos­ing his air­ways.

“Grandad kept do­ing this mo­tion and af­ter a minute longer — which felt like 20 min­utes — Jack let out a big cry. It had dis­lodged.”

Ms Behrens said the emer­gency dis­patch team talked peo­ple through CPR pro­ce­dures ev­ery day, “but it’s your worst night­mare when it’s a baby”.

Mrs Mon­son said she was enor­mously grate­ful.

“I can’t thank them enough. What they did was just amaz­ing.”

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