Should I Have Called 911? How I Reacted in an Emergency

I was going to write a post about alternative milks and although that sounds like a mind-blowing topic, I had an incident happen last Saturday night that made me wonder what other parents would have done in my situation.

My parents had just arrived from out of town and they had not yet seen our new home. My 3-1/2 year old son was beyond excited to see them and jumped anxiously from room to room to give them a tour while my 1-1/2 year old daughter waddled behind. My son started getting a little too amped up and began pestering my daughter by running around her and pushing on her. She ended up falling down at one point on our carpeted floor.

No big deal. This happens DAILY in my house. She was crying and needed consoling so I stopped the tour and picked her up and held her on my hip. Seconds later, she fell backwards in my arms like a rag doll, eyes fixed on me with a glassy look. I screamed, “Oh my God!”, dropped to my knees and laid her limp body on the ground not knowing what was happening. Then she started screaming and crying so hard that she broke out into a sweat. I held her trying to calm her down while my dad ran to get a cold wash cloth for her face.

My mom wanted to call 911. I wanted to wait. Why? Because the Mom in me was already five steps ahead in what trauma it would inflict on my daughter if this was not a life-threatening situation. I’ve never had to call 911 for someone in my family so in my head I imagined having EMT’s swarm over my daughter poking and prodding and possibly hooking her up with oxygen or an IV.

Secondly, my 3-1/2 year old saw the whole thing and having EMT’s rush into our house with medical equipment to work on his baby sister would be terrifying. That is what I was weighing in my mind. Because if her condition was not life-threatening I didn’t want to cause complete chaos in their calm and peaceful bubble that I have created for them. At the time I didn’t feel like I had enough information to make a decision. And a quick reaction to do the right thing has not been my strong suite in an emergency. Is that crazy? Do other moms think the same thing?

DSC_0401Once she was calm I gave her some milk and let her walk around for a while even though it was much past her bedtime. My thinking was if she had a concussion of some sort I would be able to identify the signs-vomiting, disorientation, eyes not able to focus. I saw none of those signs.

After questioning myself a million times I called the pediatrician on call and explained the situation. His response was that the ER would most likely not be able to identify a problem. It was the sign of a good pediatrician when he said “I’m not telling you not to go to the ER if you truly feel like you should”. He instructed me to wake her up every hour to make sure she responded just as any toddler might if you woke them up in the middle of the night.

He later called me back after thinking about the incident and told me about a common thing called breath-holding in babies and toddlers when they get extremely upset. I can’t be sure if that was it and we’ve not had a recurrence since that night. Thankfully, she is okay but in that moment it was so terrifying and I felt so unprepared on how to deal with the situation.

So I wonder if you were in my situation would you have rushed to the phone to dial 911? As a mom I battle with what is the right decision for my child. In the end all is well with my daughter but it opened my eyes to how unprepared I was in case of an emergency.

Tiffany never dreamed she would be mom material let alone a SAHM! Leaving her full-time job as a marketing manager/graphic designer, Tiffany set out to explore the world of spit-up, Sesame Street and sleep deprivation. Managing her two little ones has definitely proven to be a challenge of patience and will but at the end of the day those sweet faces make each day fulfilling. Married to her husband of ten years, the couple takes every opportunity to explore new places even if it means being out of their comfort zone. Outside of her children and spouse, Tiffany truly enjoys vintage stores, photography with her beloved Nikon, a good facial, wine and chick flicks. Her role at Jacksonville Moms Blog will be to take her readers through the journey of living greener. It’s sure to be a great resource for using easy-to-create household cleaners to what to do with all of that food your toddler just wasted!


  1. I think it’s important to trust our instinct as moms, you did what you felt was right for you and your family and that’s what is important. I think if it were me, I probably would have reacted the same way that you did.

  2. I think you made the right call. Reading your reasoning, I completely agree. And I think your pediatrician was correct also, there is no way the ER could’ve done a thing for you. You kept an eye on her condition and did call her doctor to get his advice. Sometimes the best thing you can do is wait and see. In this world of instant gratification we often get consumed by that feeling of wanting an immediate answer. Even the ER couldn’t give you an immediate answer and you would’ve been waiting there, and opening the door for lots of germs to be exposed to your family at the ER and waiting area. She was conscious and walking around normally, and you carefully watched her. That’s exactly what I would’ve done. Thank you for taking the time to write and share your experience with us.

  3. I would have definitely called the pediatrician first, just like you did. Unless the situation was something very severe, my first reaction would be to call the pediatrician, and get her advice regarding the symptoms and whether or not to call 911 or go to the ER.


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