Oh, That Dreaded Call…“We’re in the Emergency Room!”

Written by: Vickie Dance

On June 25, just 6 months after we adopted our precious baby girl (Pepper), I got that call (from my husband) that everyone dreads…”we’re in the emergency room…Pepper threw up after eating some leaves that might have been poisonous!”.  Ironically, I was on my way home from conducting a presentation on poison prevention education which concluded with my favorite two professional, (and now personal) mantras: …”Don’t stall, just call 1-800-222-1222” and No issue too big or small, just call the IL Poison Center 1-800-222-1222”.  

Not surprising that neither of these mantras came quick enough to my frantic husband as our baby “tossed her cookies” (or in this case, leaves not cookies!). After 4 hours waiting for an ambulance to arrive and ER staff to observe Pepper (no treatment necessary, thank goodness), we went home with whopper ER and ambulance bills, a completely distraught dad (the neighbors were more worried about him than Pepper!), but a healthy child that continues to this day to eat leaves!  

In my 7+ years working for the non-profit Illinois Poison Center (IPC), public education and communications, I’ve heard about a variety of calls to the IPC from parents regarding what their child ate/ingested (poop, mouth full of vitamins/medicines, dad’s Viagra, bugs/worms, berries, button batteries, diaper rash cream, Christmas tree/decorations, windshield washer fluid, etc.).  Some funny, some sad and many that I wondered…now how in the world did that happen?  I now understand how such, unfathomable things can happen and how more importantly, how immediate, expert assistance makes for healthier, less costly outcomes and prevents unnecessary trauma and drama!

More than half the almost 100,000 phone calls the IPC answers each year involve a child exposed to a potentially harmful substance.  Knowing that for children ages 18-36 months, poisoning is the #1 cause of injury-related hospitalization and death, I jumped at the chance to write this blog.  I hope this information and the links within and below help you better understand how you, your partner and your sitters/nannies can avoid a similar situation. In the event something does happen (and most likely it will), The trained medical experts (nurses, pharmacists, doctors) are available via the FREE and confidential hotline 1.800.222.1222 less than a 1 minute call away. 

Additional Resources:

Posted on November 28, 2011 at 9:28 PM