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  1. Salladay, Susan A. RN, PhD

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While watching my son's track meet, I saw his friend Jay collapse on the field. I rushed over to help. Jay had been stung by a bee and was having a severe allergic reaction. Thankfully, he had an epinephrine injector with him. I identified myself as an RN, administered the epinephrine, and asked bystanders to call 911 and Jay's parents. He responded well to the drug.


Meanwhile, his older brother ran up and said that their parents weren't at the meet. As the coach tried to contact the parents, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) arrived. Both boys demanded that the older brother be permitted to ride with Jay to the hospital. The EMTs were reluctant, but the coach and I insisted that keeping the children together would help keep Jay calm.


Later, I learned that the parents felt I'd overstepped my authority by allowing the older brother to ride in the ambulance. Should I have done something differently?-A.W., PA.

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I agree that a family presence is calming during an emergency if the individuals are in control emotionally. In this case, it sounds as if the older brother was a reassuring influence and that keeping the boys apart might have added to Jay's distress, so you probably made a good call.


Keep in mind that the final decision about the ambulance ride wasn't yours to make. The EMTs made the decision based on their judgment and their organization's policy. So it's unclear why the parents are upset with you, especially if the outcome was positive. Perhaps the parents feel guilty about missing the track meet that day. If necessary, the school or organization sponsoring the meet should provide critical incident stress debriefing and clarify emergency policies and procedures for future events.