School holidays are over and hopefully you and your family got through emergency and accident free. With our little humans back safely learning at school, paramedics are encouraging parents and guardians to teach their children how to become potential ‘life savers’ as well by knowing how to contact emergency services.

It’s often not something we think to teach our children, but along with manners and doing up their shoe laces, learning to call Triple Zero (000) is just as important — even more so, because it saves lives.

Queensland Ambulance Service Gold Coast Acting Assistant Commissioner Dennis Jess says the service often received 000 calls from children alerting them to a parent or guardian who needed urgent medical help. “While the QAS hopes your child will never need to call 000, it is best to prepare them for the worst than be caught off guard in an emergency situation,” Mr Jess says. “The QAS has attended many cases where the quick-thinking of a child calling 000 has saved a life.”

Earlier this year, eight-year-old Mia Moyle from Logan rang Triple Zero (000)  when her dad, Jason, was having a seizure. Mia’s quick-thinking actions saved her dad’s life. She calmly called 000 and then, by knowing all the right things to do and say, an ambulance was dispatched. She now feels like a little hero, and she is.

I thought my Millie would be to young to teach at three years old, but after a special visit with Burleigh Heads Advanced Care Paramedic Jeremy Cotter I was proven slightly wrong. After a small amount of coaching and role playing she could at least dial 000… however, when she was asked what suburb she lived in, she said ‘Tasmania’ (where her Nana lives). We have a little way to go, but at least it’s something — having the confidence to talk on the phone to a stranger gets her part of the way there.

Mr Jess says when teaching your child how to dial Triple Zero (000), it’s important to stress the importance of only calling in a life-threatening emergency, and to discuss the sorts of questions they may need to answer.

The types of information the QAS may need to know when a child calls 000 includes:

  • What is the town or suburb of the emergency?
  • What is the exact address of the emergency?
  • What phone number are you calling from?
  • What has happened?
  • How many people need help?
  • How old is the patient?
  • Is the patient awake?
  • Is the patient breathing?
  • The gender of the patient.

“When you call 000 and request an ambulance, an Emergency Medical Dispatcher will be available on the line to provide advice and dispatch medical help to your location,” he said. “So it’s important children are aware of their address or location, having it written down nearby the phone can help prompt a child in an emergency. The EMD will talk them through steps, which can include ensuring the door is unlocked so paramedics can gain access and checking to see if the patient is breathing.They will also stay on the phone with the child until paramedics arrive on scene.”

Mr Jess said children could practice calling 000 with a disconnected or toy phone or by playing an online training game at kids.triplezero.gov.au/.

I have since downloaded the training game and can highly recommend it. Not only is is educational, it’s not annoying (like Disney Princess Pets, which constantly asks my daughter if they look pretty as she preens their imaginary hair — the face I pull every time I hear it is far from pretty). Kids Triple Zero roleplays different situations like a fire emergency, police intruder emergency and health emergencies. The child has to ascertain the level of emergency, which service to request, and then answer the EMD’s questions correctly. Millie really enjoys the challenge and talks back to the characters, and is now always asking to play the ‘000 ‘mergency game’.

I’m happy to oblige — if I’m choking to death on a left-over Easter egg, I don’t want the ambulance to be dispatched to Tasmania…